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The Black Mirror plot about AI that worries actors

The Black Mirror plot about AI that worries actors

Hollywood actors are currently on strike, marking the first strike in 43 years, which has brought the American movie and television industry to a standstill. One of the key concerns driving this strike is the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the industry.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) actors’ union failed to reach an agreement in the US regarding better protections against AI for its members. The union has warned that AI poses a significant threat to creative professions and is determined to address this issue during the strike.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, criticized the proposals put forth by the studios regarding AI. He cited an example where studios wanted the ability to scan the faces of background artists for a single day’s payment and then have ownership and unrestricted use of their likeness in perpetuity, without consent or compensation.

This scenario is reminiscent of an episode from Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series called “Joan Is Awful.” The episode portrays the Hollywood star Salma Hayek discovering that her AI likeness can be exploited by a production company without her knowledge.

Other acting unions, such as the UK’s Equity, share concerns about “performance cloning” and the use of AI in various applications like automated audiobooks, synthesizing voiceover work, digital avatars, and deepfakes in films. Equity is working to educate its members about their rights in this rapidly evolving landscape.

Justine Bateman, a filmmaker, and writer, believes that AI is unnecessary in the entertainment industry. She argues that there is no shortage of writers, actors, or filmmakers, and AI primarily benefits corporations by reducing costs and increasing profits.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), representing writers across different media, also expresses concerns about AI. They highlight issues such as unauthorized use of writers’ work, lack of proper identification of AI-generated content, reduced job opportunities, suppressed pay for writers, and a potential dilution of the creative industry’s contributions to the UK economy and national identity.

The WGGB has put forth recommendations to safeguard writers’ rights, including obtaining express permission from writers before using their work and ensuring transparency from AI developers regarding data usage.

As AI rapidly develops, the concept of ownership becomes increasingly complicated. For instance, when individuals input their likeness into AI-generated portrait apps, the resulting images become part of the public domain and can be freely used by anyone. Copyright laws do not adequately protect these AI-generated images, prompting calls for changes in legislation.

Dr. Mathilde Pavis, a lawyer specializing in digital cloning technologies, argues that current UK copyright laws need to be updated. She points out that our faces and voices are less protected than physical possessions like cars, laptops, and houses, which is a consequence of underestimating the vulnerability to being imitated and reused through AI technologies.

These concerns and debates surrounding AI’s impact on the entertainment industry are driving the strike and calling for regulatory measures to safeguard workers’ rights and protect audiences from fraud and misinformation.


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