The SAG Deal Sends a Clear Message About AI and Workers

On Monday, the management of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA, held a members-only webinar to debate the contract the union tentatively agreed upon final week with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). If ratified, the contract will formally finish the longest labor strike within the guild’s historical past.

For many within the business, synthetic intelligence was one of many strike’s most contentious, fear-inducing parts. Over the weekend, SAG launched particulars of their agreed AI phrases, an expansive set of protections that require consent and compensation for all actors, no matter standing. With this settlement, SAG has gone considerably additional than the Directors Guild of America (DGA) or the Writers Guild of America (WGA), who preceded them in coming to phrases with the AMPTP. This isn’t to say that SAG succeeded the place the opposite unions failed, however that actors face extra of an instantaneous, existential menace from machine-learning advances and different computer-generated applied sciences.

The SAG deal is just like the DGA and WGA offers in that it calls for protections for any occasion the place machine-learning instruments are used to govern or exploit their work. All three unions have claimed their AI agreements are “historic” and “protective,” however whether or not one agrees with that or not, these offers operate as vital guideposts. AI would not simply posit a menace to writers and actors—it has ramifications for employees in all fields, inventive or in any other case.

For these seeking to Hollywood’s labor struggles as a blueprint for methods to cope with AI in their very own disputes, it is vital that these offers have the fitting protections, so I perceive those that have questioned them, or pushed them to be extra stringent. I’m amongst them. But there’s a level at which we’re pushing for issues that can’t be completed on this spherical of negotiations, and will not have to be pushed for in any respect.

To higher perceive what the general public typically calls AI and its perceived menace, I spent months throughout the strike assembly with lots of the main engineers and tech consultants in machine-learning and authorized students in each Big Tech and copyright regulation.

The essence of what I realized confirmed three key factors: The first is that the gravest threats will not be what we hear most spoken about within the information—most people whom machine-learning instruments will negatively influence aren’t the privileged however low- and working-class laborers and marginalized and minority teams, as a result of inherent biases inside the know-how. The second level is that the studios are as threatened by the rise and unregulated energy of Big Tech because the inventive workforce, one thing I wrote about intimately earlier within the strike right here and that WIRED’s Angela Watercutter astutely expanded upon right here.