Due to the rise in the use and popularity of AI technology, it’s no wonder that one of the essential topics of the WGA strike is the urgency to ensure that AI is not used within the writer’s room. In a passionate and desperate letter, Anthony McCarten, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplays for The Theory of Everything and The Two Popes, wrote a guest column for Deadline describing the danger the technology can have on media as art.
McCarten begins by describing humans’ role in creating art about other humans. When one creates art, it is due to their own experiences and imagination, which are attributes that can only exist among living beings, and this is what technology, no matter how advanced, cannot due. Instead, McCarten explains that AI is merely “learning from us as it evolves, stealing from us, deriving power from us, but with ungoverned access to the sum total of writing models.” In other words, technology, specifically AI, can only attempt to replicate; its creations are inorganic and cannot truly capture the human experience that many films are based on.
Beyond this more philosophical argument against using AI, McCarten also refers to the more practical and dangerous reason that technology should not be used – the replacement of humans. While McCarten has already established that he believes technology can’t replace human creativity truly, he acknowledges that many are incredibly excited about AI’s arrival because it is seen as an efficient and cheap way to create a product. Beyond strictly speaking about writers, McCarten implies the moral problems that come with this mentality where human value is up for debate.
He states, “If efficiency-creation is its main attribute AI promises to offer, then its first act will be the elimination of that most inefficient of things: workers’ sheer costliness has always been bothersome in the inhumane calculus of pure profit and bottom line. The WGA must make the point, then, on behalf of those who will surely be blinded by self-interest, that this is a technology whose capacity to harm presently far outweighs it capacity to do good.”