Written by 10:43 pm AI

### The SAG Package Sends a Clear Message on AI’s Impact on Workers

The agreement between Hollywood actors, studios, and streamers isn’t perfect. But it could set the …

The exclusive conference hosted by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Monday centered around the tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, potentially marking the conclusion of the longest workers’ strike in the guild’s history if the contract is officially approved.

One of the most contentious and alarming aspects of the strike for many industry members was the involvement of artificial intelligence. The disclosed details of SAG’s AI terms, which encompass a comprehensive set of protections requiring acknowledgment and compensation from all individuals involved, irrespective of their standing, were revealed over the weekend. Unlike the Writers Guild or Directors Guild of America, which engaged with the AMPTP prior to SAG, the union has made significant progress in reaching this accord. The concern lies not in SAG’s triumph over the other organizations but in the escalating threat posed by advancements in machine learning and other computer-generated technologies to actors.

The agreement reached by SAG mirrors those of the DGA and WGA by mandating safeguards whenever machine learning tools are utilized to interfere with or exploit their work. Despite the assertions by all three organizations that their AI agreements are groundbreaking and protective, these contracts serve as crucial foundations. AI presents a risk to workers across all sectors, including the artistic realm, in addition to writers and actors.

While I empathize with those advocating for stricter measures and questioning Hollywood’s approach to AI in light of labor challenges, it is essential for these agreements to afford the necessary rights. Having spent weeks consulting with leading technical experts in machine learning and legal scholars in both Big Tech and rights laws during the strike, I have come to understand the essence of AI and its perceived threats.

My findings underscore three key points: Firstly, the primary threats, often overlooked in mainstream discussions, predominantly impact disadvantaged groups and the working class due to inherent biases in technology. Secondly, akin to the creative workforce, studios face jeopardy from the dominance and unregulated authority of Big Tech. Both aspects lead to the crucial realization that there is no foolproof legal framework safeguarding artists (or any individual) from the exploitation of machine learning tools.

As discussions persist on addressing AI challenges, it is imperative to acknowledge the limitations in current legal strategies against tech giants. While advocating for enhanced copyright protections and accountability is crucial, the opaque nature of tech companies necessitates a deeper understanding of their operations. Despite the hurdles, the solidarity demonstrated by the workforce in outlining their terms in these agreements holds immense value, signaling a stance against exploitation and technological encroachment.

The agreements with SAG, DGA, and WGA signify a pivotal step in labor’s quest for equitable footing in the evolving landscape. As the industry navigates the complexities of the Tech Era, embracing the agreements not only signifies progress but also sets a precedent for future negotiations and labor movements.

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Last modified: December 20, 2023
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