Artificial Intelligence Could Steal Jobs in the Future, Fears: Here’s Why

Filmmakers have put horror on screen for over a century. In 2023, the real bogeyman looks like us.

Since June, Hollywood studios and actors have been at odds over the use artificial intelligence in film and television. The lack of consensus around AI was one of the reasons why SAG-AFTRA The union representing actors and media professionals last Friday joined the writers’ group in the first simultaneous strike in 63 years.

Among the biggest theater scares? Designers.

Although the two parties have discussed the use of images and systems such as training for AI systems to change behavior in the changing room, actors are worried that actors created by AI, or “metahumans,” will steal their roles.

“If it wasn’t a big problem to plan to use AI instead of actors, it wouldn’t be wise to put this contract and let us sleep with peace of mind,” Carly Turro, an actress who appeared on television as “Homeland,” said in a press release this week. “That they can’t do that is scary when you think about the future of art and entertainment as a profession.”

One issue is to create an artist from a combination of theater performances. Sources from the studio say that this has not happened yet, although they want to reserve the rights as part of the negotiations.

SAG-AFTRA CEO Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said AI poses a “serious problem” for actors who worry that their past, present and future work will be used to create “creators who can take their place.”

Crabtree-Ireland said the agreement does not seek to ban AI, but that companies will consult with them for approval before creating an artist instead of an actor.

Film and television producers have said they have addressed the agency’s concerns in their latest proposal, according to sources familiar with the matter. The union, however, did not respond to their request, these studio sources said.

The studios, eager to retain creative options, agreed to give notice to SAG if they wanted to use an actor to replace the actor who would have played the role, giving the union a chance to negotiate, according to sources familiar with the production.

Digital analogs

Another sticking point in the discussion is creating digital images of past performers.

Major studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said they will get the actor’s permission to use their digital image in any motion picture outside of the actor’s original contract, according to sources familiar with the production process.

The producers said they will negotiate with the actors on the payment when they use digital – and they said that the quality of the actor cannot stand for the limited number of actors required as part of the SAG contract.

SAG says the studios agreed to get permission during the hiring process, which it says is against the concept of compensation.

“What that means is that these companies are telling the actors, ‘If you don’t give us the license we want, we’re not going to hire you and we’re going to replace you,'” Crabtree-Ireland said. “That is not allowed in any meaningful way.”

Studios are also looking to continue the long-running trend of 3D models to capture the character of an actor, in this case to create AI-generated digital animations. Such images can be used in post-production, to accurately change an actor’s face or create a double screen, said a person familiar with the film’s mechanics.

The makers have promised to get the actor’s consent, and discuss separately the use of the actor’s doppelganger, sources said.

Studios can do that now, with proper licensing and compensation, Crabtree-Ireland said. The subject of this agreement is the desire to retain the rights to the digital art for future works, taking ownership of the real person.

Similarly, studios want the freedom to digitally edit post-production, in a way that suits the character, script and vision of the director. Being able to change a word or two of dialogue, or quickly change the digital costumes, can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in reshoot costs, said one of the studio sources.

The makers have committed to seek permission from the actor for any post-production changes, sources say.

SAG defines this as excessive AI, and wants permission to not require any changes to the actor’s image, appearance or voice.

“Old adaptation methods can’t create new patterns that haven’t existed,” Crabtree-Ireland said.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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