During a press conference on Friday, Hollywood actors confirmed their decision to go on strike, shedding light on a controversial proposal from Hollywood studios suggesting an AI solution. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator, revealed that the proposal presented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) raised concerns reminiscent of a plotline from the TV series Black Mirror.

The AMPTP’s proposal claimed to offer a “groundbreaking AI solution” to protect actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members. However, during the press conference, Crabtree-Ireland voiced his scepticism, describing the proposal as alarming. He explained that the studios suggested background performers should be scanned, receive only one day’s pay, and allow their companies to own their scan, image, and likeness indefinitely. The studios would then have unrestricted rights to use these assets on any future project, without requiring consent or providing compensation to the performers.

The issue of generative AI has been a significant point of contention in negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the studios, with the writers’ strike also centred around this matter. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher emphasised the importance of taking a stand, stating, “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.”

The strike officially commences at midnight tonight, marking a significant moment in the ongoing discussions between actors and Hollywood studios. The use of AI technology in the entertainment industry raises complex ethical questions, particularly concerning ownership and consent over digital likenesses. The strike serves as a collective effort by actors to protect their rights and ensure fair treatment in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital content creation.

It is worth noting that The Verge’s editorial staff, which reports on this development, is also unionised with the Writers Guild of America, East.

As the strike unfolds, industry observers will closely monitor the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the studios to see how these crucial issues surrounding AI and actors’ rights will be addressed. The outcome of these discussions will undoubtedly shape the future of the entertainment industry and the use of AI in the creation of digital content.