AI vs. Hollywood: Writers battle “plagiarism machines” in union talks

Enlarge / An AI-generated image of “an office copy machine in front of a hollywood-style explosion.” (credit: Midjourney)

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is seeking to restrict the use of generative AI in writing film and TV scripts as part of an ongoing strike, reports Reuters. The concerns come at a time when anxiety over the economic impact of tech like ChatGPT looms large in the minds of many.

The WGA strike is the first in 15 years, and it’s taking place over issues beyond just AI. But in particular, Reuters reports that WGA writers have two main concerns about automation in writing, quoting screenwriter John August, who is part of the WGA negotiating committee: They don’t want their material to be used as training data for AI systems, and they don’t want to be tasked with fixing AI-generated “sloppy first drafts.”

That’s because writers who are hired to polish first drafts get paid at a lower rate, and WGA writers are fighting to make sure that a ChatGPT-generated first draft would not be counted as “literary material” or “source material,” which are terms defined in their contract.

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