As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, Hollywood grapples with its possible implications. Deepfake technology and generative AI are reshaping what is possible in entertainment, and actors and writers are increasingly concerned about their role in a rapidly changing industry. Recent exchanges on social media involving digital recreations of well-known actors, and the reactions to them, highlight this tension.
Deepfakes: A Harbinger of AI’s Influence in Hollywood
A video featuring a deepfake version of actor Ryan Reynolds endorsing a Tesla car recently made waves on social media. The artificial likeness of Reynolds was created by financial advisor and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, who crafted the video to attract the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. This instance sheds light on the potential of AI to create digital renditions of famous faces for any imaginable purpose.
Responses to Deepfake Technology
While the exchange between Paffrath and Musk may not seem consequential, it is indicative of a growing concern. The capability of AI to create deepfakes is pushing actors to consider the potential encroachment of this technology on their profession.
Concerns about the unregulated use of generative AI have been raised by the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), prompting ongoing negotiations with studios to address this emerging threat.
Concerns for Actors and Writers
The influence of AI is not confined to actors alone; writers are also feeling the pressure. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director and chief negotiator for SAG-AFTRA, highlights the rapid advancement of AI, expressing uncertainty about the potential changes it could bring within the next few years.
AI tools can recreate a performer’s image, likeness, or voice persona, or even generate performances that the actor never intended to perform. These concerns are prompting the union to call for measures to protect members from potential income loss due to unregulated AI usage. However, writers are not as shielded against these issues, since their works can be copied or even modified by large language models (LLMs) without any clear form of recourse or compensation.
The Future of Hollywood in the Face of AI
Deepfakes and AI’s potential to mimic human performances have sparked concerns among talent representatives. Their worries include AI systems mimicking an actor’s distinctive traits without compensating them, thus creating performances that mirror the intensity and appeal of celebrated actors, but without the need to pay for their services.
Despite the possible threat to jobs and the potential reduction in the number of writing or voice-acting roles, some experts argue that AI-generated actors may initially be less appealing to audiences. However, as AI advances and becomes more capable of creating human-like performances, audience acceptance might increase, possibly leading to a future where AI replicants are the norm in Hollywood.
Economics of AI in Hollywood
As negotiations loom between the actors’ union and Hollywood studios, the central focus remains economic fairness. AI could potentially be used to produce more content with fewer human resources, further straining the precarious balance between the financial success of a film or TV show and the compensation received by the creatives involved.
With the growing impact of AI on the entertainment industry, ensuring that performers, writers, and other creative professionals are fairly compensated for their contributions is paramount. The potential for AI to replace human talent may seem distant, but as the technology continues to evolve, Hollywood must grapple with these issues head-on.