Writers on Strike
As of this morning, we’ve learned that talks have broken down, and the union representing movie and television writers (WGA) is going on strike.
Are we poised to have skilled, knowledgeable writers replaced by artificial intelligence to create compelling stories? James Freeman in the WSJ reminds readers that we are about to have a real-world test.
From Joe Flint (WSJ):
Hollywood is running out of time to script a happy ending.
The entertainment industry’s writers and the major networks, streamers and studios are struggling to agree on their next contract. If a deal isn’t reached by the end of Monday, the writers are expected to go on strike for only the second time in four decades.
Evolving Business Models without Happy Endings
During the most recent strike, in 2007-08, some late-night shows eventually returned to the air before a deal was reached, trying to make do without the writers who crafted material such as opening monologues and skits. That strike also helped fuel the growth in so-called reality and unscripted shows, which aren’t part of the Writers Guild.
Scripts by Non-Humans?
According to people close to the talks, discussions included artificial intelligence and the concerns AI raises about the creative process. although that wasn’t a priority, notes Mr. Freeman. Mr. Freeman also admits that neither he nor his column is an expert in labor negotiations. He then wonders how much leverage is gained by guild negotiators openly acknowledging that management might not need their members at all by 2025 or sooner?
From the NYT:
When the union representing Hollywood writers laid out its list of objectives for contract negotiations with studios this spring, it included familiar language on compensation, which the writers say has either stagnated or dropped amid an explosion of new shows.
But far down, the document added a distinctly 2023 twist. Under a section titled “Professional Standards and Protection in the Employment of Writers,” the union wrote that it aimed to “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.”
We Don’t Need You
“It is not out of the realm of possibility that before 2026, which is the next time we will negotiate with these companies, they might just go, ‘you know what, we’re good,’” said Mike Schur, the creator of “The Good Place” and co-creator of “Parks and Recreation.”
The Insidious Way AI Works
The WSJ also reports that some studios, producers, and writers are already experimenting with AI tools including ChatGPT—the text-generating, humanlike chatbot—and image generators such as DALL-E and Midjourney.
Widely available AI tools can recommend plotlines and character arcs, take a crack at penning dialogue, and even generate short films.
Ultimately consumers will decide what they like to watch. But perhaps technological competition will drive writers to higher levels of creativity, Mr. Freeman hopes.
In the meantime, the outcome of this Hollywood negotiation may tell us much about the current power of artificial intelligence.
Real Intelligence vs AI
Will plots have to reflect leftist narratives? As a reader of Mr. Freeman’s column notes, “there will be no room for even benign happenstance whatsoever, since it might complicate control by fiat.”
All this dystopia will be the result of algorithms ultimately written by humans.
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