Reasons for Actors Opposing the SAG-AFTRA Artificial Intelligence Deal

Last week, the actors' guild, SAG-AFTRA, ended a nearly four-month-long strike after reaching an agreement with major Hollywood studios. The strike was primarily centered around concerns over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the industry. While the deal includes some protections for actors against AI, there are some members of SAG-AFTRA who believe that the terms of the agreement do not go far enough and are urging their colleagues to vote against it.

The new contract, which was approved by 86% of the board members, still needs to be ratified by the union's full membership. The agreement includes provisions such as mandatory consent from performers to create a "digital replica" of an actor and payment for days that would have been worked in person if a digital replica is used. It also ensures residual payments for actors when their digital replicas are used onscreen.

However, there are concerns among some members about certain aspects of the deal. Actress Justine Bateman, who was an AI adviser to the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee, voiced her concerns on social media, particularly regarding the language used in the contract. She criticized what she considered to be loopholes that could potentially allow studios to use digital doubles without consent or compensation. Bateman also raised concerns about the use of "synthetic performers," arguing that it is troubling for a union representing human actors to approve the use of AI objects to replace them.

Other actors, including Katja Herbers and Kellen Goff, have also expressed their opposition to the deal, citing concerns about the impact on film crew members and the potential pressure on actors to give consent for AI usage. On the other hand, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has defended the deal, accusing opponents of trying to undermine the negotiations and emphasizing the benefits of the contract.

The fate of the agreement now lies in the hands of SAG-AFTRA members, who will begin voting on Tuesday. If the contract is rejected, the strike could resume, which has never happened before in the history of SAG-AFTRA. It remains to be seen how the members will vote and what the implications will be for the future of AI in the entertainment industry.


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