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Actors and Writers Unite: Concerns Over AI Impact on Entertainment Industry

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Hollywood Actors Strike Over AI Threat to Creative Professions

Hollywood actors have initiated the first strike in 43 years, halting the American movie and television business, partly due to concerns about the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI). The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) failed to secure better protections against AI for its members, emphasizing that AI poses an existential threat to creative professions. Negotiations have reached an impasse, leading the union to take a firm stance on the issue.

AI’s Intrusion into the Entertainment Industry

One of the primary concerns raised by the actors’ union is the intrusion of AI into the entertainment industry. Studios have proposed scanning the faces of background artists for a single day’s payment, granting them eternal ownership and the unrestricted use of the likeness without consent or compensation.

This plotline closely resembles an episode from the renowned series Black Mirror, titled “Joan Is Awful,” where Salma Hayek’s AI likeness is exploited by a production company without her knowledge.

Growing Worries among Actors and Writers

The worries over AI are not limited to SAG-AFTRA alone. UK acting union Equity has expressed similar concerns, particularly regarding “performance cloning.” Automated audiobooks, synthesised voiceover work, digital avatars for corporate videos, and deepfake technology used in films have raised fears among Equity members. The union is actively striving to educate its members about their rights in this rapidly evolving landscape.

The Writers’ Guild Raises Copyright and Employment Concerns

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) has joined the chorus of concerns surrounding AI’s impact on the entertainment industry. The union highlights several issues, including the unauthorized use of writers’ work by AI developers, the lack of proper identification of AI-generated content, reduced job opportunities for writers, suppressed pay, and diluted contributions to the UK economy and national identity. To safeguard writers’ rights and protect audiences from fraud and misinformation, the WGGB proposes recommendations and calls for regulation.

Challenging Copyright Laws in the Age of AI

The rapid development of AI has brought complexity to the concept of ownership. When individuals input their likeness into AI-generated portrait apps, the resulting images are considered part of the public domain and available for anyone to use. Unfortunately, these new images are not protected by copyright law.

Experts argue that existing copyright laws should be revised to encompass individuals’ faces and voices, granting them the same level of protection as physical possessions. Such changes would help mitigate the risks associated with AI technologies and their potential misuse.

Balancing Innovation and Protection in the Creative Workforce

As the entertainment industry grapples with the rise of AI, striking a balance between innovation and protection becomes crucial. Safeguarding the rights of workers and preserving the creative industry’s contributions to the economy are paramount.

Transparency from AI developers regarding data usage, explicit permission for utilizing writers’ work, and adequate regulation are all necessary steps to ensure that the benefits of AI do not come at the expense of workers and the integrity of creative expression. By proactively addressing these concerns, the industry can embrace technological advancements while preserving the core elements that make it truly human.


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