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HomeEntertainmentWGA Negotiator John August Reveals What He Believes Is The Biggest Artificial...

WGA Negotiator John August Reveals What He Believes Is The Biggest Artificial Intelligence Threat To Writers

Max Goldbart

The new WGA-AMPTP deal is months old but the AI battle is far from over, according to union negotiator John August.

August was speaking on an AVPSummit panel showcasing several AI-generated videos and images that he said represents a grave threat, even after the WGA was able to secure AI guardrails for the first time in its latest deal.

“We were in negotiations with the six biggest companies but the things we see here today did not require a big company [to create],” he added.

“The bigger threat to artists and folks in the room are companies not related to the big giants creating things that we can do that are then available on other platforms. Ultimately we are competing for viewer time and attention and I worry that these [AI] tools are going to be used to create something that replaces a lot of what we are doing.”

In particular, August, whose past credits include Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, cited the “creep” impact that AI-generated sizzles will have on the ability of writers to get work.

“As it creeps up further and further, it becomes a question of where the boundary is between this thing you’re creating to present a project versus the project itself,” he added. “At what point are you taking away someone’s job? I am concerned that 20 years from now we will not have people who know how to do this in real life.”

August reflected on the 2023 labor action, when writers and actors “shut down the industry for almost a year, largely over these issues,” adding: “We were the first but won’t be the last people to raise these issues.” In April, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE the WGA, and the DGA united behind a new legislative move from Adam Schiff to put up some new and slightly punitive guardrails around AI.

Banijay “super honest” on AI

Speaking alongside him on day two of the south Italy event, Banijay Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Damien Viel insisted the Big Brother super-indie will be “super honest on the way we use AI.”

“AI is not creative but generative AI is based on things that already exist,” he added, as he stressed that the growing tech affords creatives more time to work on projects while “we can reduce significantly the cost of production because we want to retain more of the rights.”

Viel had recently witnessed the first 100% AI-generated concert in Paris, and he joked that “the notes and music made my ears bleed.”

Earlier today, Apple unveiled a ream of new AI features.

August and Viel were speaking at AVPSummit alongside the likes of Sony productions boss Wayne Garvie and Amazon Italy scripted chief Davide Nardini.

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