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The ongoing writers’ strike brings the role of AI in content creation into focus, with many fearing it might replace human writers. As over 11,000 film and TV writers go on strike, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) seeks to block AI-generated content and ensure human writers have a say in the process. Meanwhile, studios are exploring AI’s cost-cutting potential, with some higher-ups asking about the feasibility of AI-generated scripts during the strike. Despite concerns over AI’s impact on the industry, it is viewed as a potential tool for streamlining production schedules and improving dubbing. However, the WGA and many writers believe that AI should be treated as a research tool and not a source of literary material.

AI’s growing presence in the entertainment industry

The entertainment industry has witnessed a rapid increase in AI-generated content in recent years. For example, there are film series remade in Wes Anderson’s style, AI-generated images winning art competitions, and even ChatGPT potentially replacing journalists. OneDoor Studios uses AI tools ChatGPT, Jasper.ai, and Adobe Firefly for crowdsourced film adaptation of Nova McBee’s “Calculated” book series, refining scripts, generating promotional materials, storyboards, and visual references.

Despite the growing presence of AI in entertainment, many writers and experts argue that AI cannot replace the human touch in content creation. AI-generated scripts may capture the aesthetics but lack the human experience and connection that drives culture. As Italian filmmaker Fellini once said, “All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”

WGA’s stand against AI-generated content

The WGA is fighting to regulate AI in the writing process, proposing that “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.” This proposal aims to maintain the integrity of human-made art and retain the value of human expression. However, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has rejected the proposal, offering annual meetings to discuss technology advancements instead.

Writers fear that AI’s rapid advancement will lead to outsourcing their work to machines. John August, a member of the WGA’s 2023 negotiating committee, expressed concerns about AI-generated scripts being considered as literary material or source material, stating, “We don’t want to be handed something and [be told], ‘Oh, hey, base what you’re supposed to be writing off of this short story generated by AI.’”

AI’s limitations in content creation

While AI has made significant strides in generating content, it still has limitations compared to human writers. AI-generated scripts can mimic writing styles but lack the real-world research, talking to people, and hearing stories essential for journalism. Moreover, AI relies on existing data and does not expand to offline events, which could result in shrinking entry points for reliable information.

Noam Kroll, a filmmaker, tested OpenAI’s ChatGPT and found the AI-generated screenplay to be generic and lacking emotional depth. Similarly, Adam Conover, the creator of Adam Ruins Everything, believes AI’s role in Hollywood writing is a “fad that’s going to disappear in a year and a half.” Conover argues that AI cannot perform tasks like understanding the filming process, budget considerations, and coordinating with various departments.

The future of AI in the entertainment industry

The ongoing writers’ strike has brought the role of AI in content creation to the forefront, but the future of AI in the entertainment industry remains uncertain. The WGA’s stand against AI-generated content could shape AI’s role in the arts for decades to come. However, as AI technology continues to advance, both the WGA and studios must find a balance between embracing AI as a tool and ensuring the preservation of human expression in arts and culture.

Whether AI will play a significant role in content creation or remain a supplementary tool for human writers depends on the outcome of the ongoing strike and the willingness of both sides to find common ground. One thing is clear: the debate over AI’s potential impact on the entertainment industry is far from over.