How DEI and AI Are the Basis of Today's Strikes
In the fast-evolving world of entertainment, where creativity meets technology, a recent series of strikes has spotlighted a crucial intersection – the intersection of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Let's dive into the monumental strikes that have recently rocked the industry and the profound reasons why DEI matters more than ever in the writer's room.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) Strike: Battling for Creative Integrity
On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) initiated a strike against the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television (AMPTP). Among the core disputes was the use of AI for scriptwriting. The WGA stood firm, opposing AI-generated scripts and any modifications made by AI. They recognized that AI, while a powerful tool, couldn't replicate the depth and diversity of human storytelling.
The AMPTP, instead, opted to discuss the matter, annually. However, the WGA understood that AI-driven scriptwriting could lead to a future with fewer writers in the writer's room. This could not only stifle creative diversity but also perpetuate underrepresentation in scripts and, subsequently in film and television productions.
The strike, lasting nearly 150 days, resulted in a deal that prohibited AI from writing or rewriting scripts. Further, AI-generated material was excluded as source material. This underscores the irreplaceable value of diverse, human storytelling in the industry.
SAG-AFTRA Strike: Preserving the Actor's Image & Control of That Image
The wave continued when SAG-AFTRA went on strike on July 14, 2023, driven by concerns regarding AI-enabled images of background actors. The AMPTP's proposal to scan actors and employ AI-created digital body doubles raised alarm bells. SAG-AFTRA resisted this proposal, asserting the importance of preserving actor integrity and ensuring fair compensation.
The DEI and AI Connection
Now, you might wonder, what does DEI have to do with these strikes? The answer lies in the very essence of DEI. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion aren't just buzzwords; they are the foundation of a vibrant and progressive entertainment industry.
Diverse Representation: DEI seeks to ensure that the entertainment industry reflects the world we live in. This means diverse characters, stories, and voices. Without diversity, scripts become stale, and storytelling loses its richness.
Equity in Opportunities: Fair pay and opportunities for all actors and writers, regardless of location, are at the core of equity. Pay discrimination based on geography is a hurdle to achieving diversity and fostering inclusivity.
Inclusion of All Voices: The use of generative AI, as seen in these strikes, can lead to the erosion of opportunities for underrepresented talent. It's essential to ensure that all voices, backgrounds, and experiences are represented in the creative process.
Resisting Discrimination: DEI efforts fight against discriminatory practices and ensure that the industry doesn't resort to technology at the expense of diversity.
In a world where AI is becoming increasingly intertwined with creative processes, the strikes by WGA and SAG-AFTRA serve as powerful reminders. They underscore the importance of preserving the human touch, diversity, and creative integrity in the entertainment industry.
As we move forward, let's champion DEI in every aspect of entertainment, recognizing that it's not just about fairness, but also about the richness of stories, characters, and the very essence of creativity.
Stay tuned as we (hopefully) watch while both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA secure fair deals that promote diversity and inclusion in movies, films, and TV.
Interested in learning more about the intersection of technology and DEI?