Hollywood has taken notice of a tweet thread from Justine Bateman, where she says, among other things, that studios are poised to use Artificial Intelligence to fully replace writers, actors, and more.
Bateman explained that the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike and negotiations have never been more critical.
Her knowledge on the topic is expansive as she has a degree in Computer Science from UCLA.
“It’s basically an algorithm,” she explained to KTLA 5’s Sam Rubin. “It’s more complex than what I’m going to describe. Basically, you just feed it a lot of information, like if you like Waze, you feed it all the maps, you feed it all the real-time traffic, and then you give it a task, ‘take me from spot A to spot B in the shortest amount of time’ and it delivers that task based on all the material you’ve given it.”
The “Face: One Square Foot of Skin” author then broke down just how this would impact the industry.
“The really kind of harsh reality of AI in the entertainment business is it’s trained on all of our past work, all of our scripts, our films, all these actors, performances, all of this, so it’s a regurgitation. It’s an amalgamation,” she said. “You give it a task, and it spits out some new product based on all of our past work.”
Bateman said she has the Copyright Office involved as this is “a massive infringement, the size of which we’ve never seen before.”
She’s also warned SAG actors to have “iron-clad protection against the AI” of their “image and voice” and to “demand it from SAG-AFTRA” and to “not accept any AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) proposal that does not have it.”
When Sam asked her if this was even a possibility, she said the AMPTP refuses “to engage with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) at all, which she said is “extremely troubling.”
“That I think is the absolute problem,” Bateman said.
While the WGA and AMPTP go head-to-head on negotiations, Bateman warns that those within SAG-AFTRA need to pay attention as the union, along with the Directors Guild, are set to speak with the AMPTP.
“If the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild can’t get restrictions on AI, I don’t personally believe that there’s any other choice but to strike, because them saying, ‘we’re not going to even talk to you about AI,’ means they are not only going to use it, but they’re already planning on using it.”
When Batemen, the former “Family Ties” star who has transitioned to writing, producing, and directing, served on the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee during the last strike 15 years ago, the thought of making money off of video on the internet seemed impossible. However, she had the foresight to make sure the union “had some real estate in that area.”
She’s glad that decision was made back then, seeing how profitable streaming has become and how it remains a point of contention within the WGA-AMPTP negotiations.
“The streamers are the most profitable. They’re some of the biggest companies in the world, not in entertainment, in the world. For them to not restrict AI and to not give a share of the billions and billions of dollars they’re making off of the work of the writers, the crew, the directors, the actors is obscene,” she exclaimed.
Right now, some actors and voice actors are being asked to “sign away the rights to future use of their image and voice,” Bateman said. With that being said, some actors are voluntarily doing it so an agent can book them more for voiceover gigs.
The writers’ strike has entered its third week with no sign of ending soon.
When it comes down to it, Bateman explained that AI is just being used for “human greed.”
“It’s replacing human expression,” she said. “I’m saying that’s ridiculous. We don’t need to replace human expression. With AI. There’s not a problem that needs to be solved.”