The Looming Threat of AI in the Visual Arts

Threat of AI in the Visual Arts


Recently, SAG-AFTRA took the unwanted but increasingly necessary step of calling a general strike. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is a labor union in the US that represents around 160,000 actors, radio personalities, voice actors, recording artists, fashion models, internet influencers and journalists. Many other famous actors around the world are showing solidarity with their American colleagues. The Writers Guild of America is also on strike. When combined with the writer’s walkout, this move by SAG-AFTRA effectively brings  Hollywood’s movie and film industry to a halt. 

The readily apparent greed of the corporate studios is the main issue. Many writers, extras, and daily working actors in the industry can no longer put food on their tables with the increasingly diminishing wages the studios are willing to compensate them for their services. 

AI Poses a Threat

However, in reviewing the terms of the proposals that the studio’s representatives have offered to SAG-AFTRA, another issue has arisen that represents a particularly frightening time bomb to those working in the industry. 

SAG-AFTRA has made the issue public, and it’s drawing condemnation from many outside the TV and film industry as it stands to affect other people’s ability to earn a living. 

The threat involves the growing popularity of AI. The proposal from the studios allegedly states that productions should be free to offer extras and background actors a day’s wages to act on a film set. The wages would require them to submit to a full body scan, after which the studio would be free to use the scan in other productions without compensating the actor. Imagine agreeing to this. The studio might scan you only to have your image later used as the face of a horrific criminal or some other character that would damage your reputation and standing without even being paid. This type of proposal underlines the safeguards that need to be implemented to govern the equitable use of AI in the arts and media. AI is an incredible tool whose limits are unknown. It would be a shame to make it a villain because of some greedy corporations.