Hollywood writers took to the streets in protest is not new, according to past patterns, the writers' strike often occurs in the recession, high inflation or because of the media and entertainment industry massive layoffs triggered by widespread uncertainty in the special period. But this year's strike has a different context: practitioners are facing the challenges of generative AI.
With AI-based generated content such as ChatGPT now readily available on the Internet, can individual film and entertainment companies create more content at a lower cost with generative AI technology instead of human creation?
ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, appeared in late 2022 and was seen more as a novelty chatbot. Rather than feeling threatened, knowledgeable Hollywood screenwriters at the time saw it as a creative tool that could inspire, and if someone had said at the time that ChatGPT could replace humans in creative work, it would have been dismissed as nonsense.
But things quickly changed with the rapid advancement of AI technology, and a few months later, AI has become a key point in the strike negotiations conducted by the American Writers Union. What is dramatic is that many screenwriters have written scripts about AI in the past. Now as AI technology becomes more widely used in film and television production, writers are beginning to panic that they will be replaced by AI and thus lose their source of income.
"We want to make sure that AI technology is a tool for writers to use, not a tool to replace writers." John August, screenwriter of "Big Fish," "Aladdin" and other films, and a member of the American Screenwriters Guild's negotiating committee for this strike, concluded, "The worrying thing is that I know there are already studio executives and producers who are trying to use generative AI technology to do the work that human screenwriters do. "
Vinnie Wilhelm, writer of "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels," argues that "screenwriters demand to be given decisive weight in the creative process, rather than becoming helpers who embellish and polish AI-generated scripts. We know that replacing human writers with AI technology plays right into the hands of some big companies - they want to make more money to please investors, so they will do whatever they can to save money, and that includes turning writers into cheap extras."
While screenwriters have repeatedly asked that no human-created work be used to train AI, the reality is that current generative AI already uses a great deal of human work in the training process, and the vast majority of that work is protected by copyright, and the creators who own the copyright have never authorized the AI developers to be able to use their work, because once the copyright to the work is surrendered, there is no way to predict in what way and through what channels the work will be Once the copyright is surrendered, there is no way to predict how and how the work will be used.
This claim also resonated with creators in other fields, such as Hari Kunzru, a writer who won the Maugham Prize for Literature, who called on creators of other literary genres to pay attention to the strike because the writers' claims could soon become the writers' claims.
In addition, Weber concludes, "Every discussion about AI has been polarized, with some believing that AI will bring about the end of the world and others believing that AI can create a utopia of liberated labor."
Regardless of the outcome of the strike negotiations, AI has been widely used in today's film and television production, which is the future trend, screenwriters are still important, but screenwriting practitioners should also pay more attention to their creative skills, and only through continuous learning and improvement can they remain competitive against AI.