Hollywood Shutdown: AI’s Role Under Scrutiny Amidst Industry Turmoil
In a historic move, over 11,000 workers with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) walked off set in early May, expressing dissatisfaction with the new streaming business models adopted by studios. The writers claim that these models pay them less for more work, cut into their residual payments — a crucial source of steady income — and erode their employment protections. This labor dispute took an unexpected turn when 160,000 performers from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union joined the walkout on Friday, uniting writer and actor forces in the first joint strike since 1960.
Tectonic shifts brewing for years behind the scenes in Hollywood are at the core of the grievances. The rise of streaming services, changes in business models, and concerns about rapidly advancing AI technology have generated fear and uncertainty among writers and actors. The prospect of AI-written TV shows, and the replication of actors’ bodies, voices, and mannerisms by studios have sparked concerns about the future of their craft and the potential replacement of human talent.
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The studios, however, insist that Hollywood will remain human, but the unions’ proposals to regulate AI technology have yet to be accepted. Despite weeks of formal negotiations, unions and studio leaders have failed to reach a compromise, leading to the breakdown of talks.
If you haven’t seen the horrors in the latest season of Black Mirror, specifically the episode “Joan Is Awful,” which has become the actor’s worst nightmare and the figurehead for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) strike. The episode explores the idea of AI-generated likenesses being used without actors’ consent, raising concerns among performers that AI technology could eventually replace them in the industry.
The impact of the double strike is far-reaching. Major studios, including Paramount, Warner, Netflix, and Amazon, are now unable to continue production as union members are barred from performing or engaging in any work. Project delays are growing daily…