Tensions are rising along with the temperature on the picket lines outside the studios of Hollywood as Writers Guild of America (WGA) members continue their three-month-long strike as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) debate the use of artificial intelligence in film and television production.

"I'm very nervous about it," WGA and SAG-AFTRA member Gloria Bigalow told Decrypt outside Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Calif. "We understand that artificial intelligence is coming, it's here, it's going to be a part of our lives. But we need to use it as a tool, it shouldn't replace people."

Bigalow, who writes for the CBS/Paramount series "Bob Hearts Abishola," says there hasn't been much activity since negotiations between the WGA and Producers stalled in May, leading the writers guild to take to the picket lines to have their voices heard directly.


"People want to know that their jobs are protected," Bigalow said. "What the [WGA] is trying to do is protect us from what happens two, five, and 10 years from now."

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more mainstream, content creators have used the technology to create AI deepfakes of world leaders and even romantic encounters with their favorite celebrities.

For some, the idea of competing with AI is a modern-day version of the story of John Henry and his legendary battle with a steam-powered rock-drilling machine.


"It would be different if AI was taught how to write, like the machine was taught how to drill," WGA member and captain Jamarcus Turner said. "If they taught [AI] how to do it, I'd be fine with that, but what they are doing is taking our work, dissecting it, and putting it into a machine, a blender, that spits it back out.

"Then they'll need someone to fix it because it's from a blender and makes no sense," Turner added. "That's stealing my work."

Turner, who also writes for "Bob Hearts Abishola," says the negotiations could end with some middle ground being reached, but he said that the producers would try their best not to meet the writer's pay demands.

"The studios are going to pay us the least amount they can—that's their job," Turner said. "What they're doing right now, in a little secret room, is trying to figure out the exact amount they can pay us where we will shut the fuck up."

Others on the picket lines did not share Turner's hope for a compromise.

"They don't want to engage the WGA on [AI]... how is that negotiation, how is that finding a middle ground?" writer and producer Eric Wallace told Decrypt. "They won't even discuss it except to say we'll have a conversation about it once or twice a year. That kind of assurance will not go down with the WGA."

Wallace, who also served as the showrunner for the CW series "The Flash," said the issue is protecting livelihoods.


"It's not that AI shouldn't exist—it already does exist, that we can't stop," Wallace said. "What we're looking for is regulation that keeps human beings and human interests in mind.

"I don't want a computer taking my script, learning from it for free, and I got nothing, and then putting me out of business," he added.

The ball, Wallace said, is in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers' court now.

"The WGA is ready to go back to the negotiating table right now, at anytime, and has said that many times today," Wallace said. "We're ready to go back. It's not like you can't find us—we're easy to find and they have not approached us at all."

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