‘Shark Tank Australia’ AI Expert Dr Catriona on the Hollywood Strikes

Shark Tank Australia Shark and AI expert, Dr Catriona Wallace speaks on AI in relation to the ongoing Hollywood strikes.

After six weeks of failed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) moved to strike in May. In July, the Screen Actors Guild followed suit. For all intents and purposes, Hollywood is currently at a standstill. One of the key issues of both the writers strike and the SAG strike is the use of AI — both in scriptwriting, and the use of deep fakes. We asked Shark Tank Australia Shark and AI expert Dr Catriona Wallace for her thoughts.

The Role of AI in the Hollywood Strikes

One of the reasons that SAG-AFTRA moved to strike in July was because the AMPTP rejected their proposed contract. Within that contract was a new section about the “unregulated use of generative AI”.

When it comes to the use of artificial intelligence in film and television, SAG-AFTRA wants to “protect the digital likeness, voice, and performance simulations of its members”. What does this mean, you ask? Basically, they’re trying to protect actors from having the Joan Is Awful episode of Black Mirror become a reality.

In the WGA’s negotiations with AMPTP, one of their main proposals was that they “Regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects: AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.”

The AMPTP also rejected this proposal, offering instead to hold “annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology”.

AI Will Disrupt the Entertainment Industry

Entertainment is the field that’s going to be disrupted first,” Dr Wallace told The Latch over the phone. “It’s entertainment number one, education number two, and healthcare number three.”

In regards to the writers and actors who are striking in Hollywood, Dr Wallace was empathetic.

“I really feel for the people who are demonstrating and concerned about the coming of deep fakes, the coming of identity fraud, the use of AI to create characters, the abuse of people’s identity and privacy, the misuse of deep, deep fakes and other things,” she said.

“I think it’s absolutely right for people to push back, because we’ve essentially released this technology onto the world that is a superpower,” she said.

“It’s a superpower,” she reiterated. “Imagine 10 years ago if we’d said, ‘Oh, imagine if you could just press a button and create a fake movie character, and the whole movie script is written for you and all the imagery is done, and you’ve just pressed two buttons’. You’d go ‘oh, that’s magic, that’s a superpower!'”


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Related: The 2007 Writers Strike Changed Everything. Will the 2023 One Do the Same?

Related: Hollywood on Pause: The SAG Strike Explained

The Need for Ethical Boundaries Around the Use of AI

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Whether you associate this quote with Spider-Man, Winston Churchill, or draw it all the way back to the French Revolution, one thing’s for certain — ChatGPT didn’t write it.

One of the main issues around the superpower of AI, Dr Wallace says, is that “we’ve got no good authority leading where we’re going with it”.

“The governments are all behind,” she said. “The tech giants don’t show any real ethical orientation.”

Dr Wallace is the founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance. She works alongside politicians, policy makers and business leaders around the world. Her aim is to stress the importance of setting “ethical principles that we should adhere to when we’re using AI”.

AI is a fast-developing industry. Dr Wallace believes that we need to take a moment to pause and consider the potential impact AI could have — and what the repercussions of that look like.

“What we need to do [is] we need to push back, we need to pause, take a breath and think about where the entertainment industry is going, think about where humanity and technology are going,” she said. “And right now, it’s not going into a particularly good direction.”

Shark Tank Australia airs at 7.30pm on Tuesdays, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand. Miss an episode? Catch up on 10 Play.

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