Standing Up Against AI is a Futile Fight, Says SAG’s Jason George

Standing Up Against AI is a Futile Fight, Says SAG's Jason George

The entertainment industry is at a pivotal point of technological evolution, facing the winds of change brought by artificial intelligence. Jason Winston George, known for his role in “Grey’s Anatomy” and as a member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee, ignited a significant debate on AI’s role in the future of entertainment.

With a firm stance against the current resistance, George believes that negotiating with technology rather than against it is the only way forward. But as the industry divides over the new SAG-AFTRA contract’s AI provisions, the question arises: Are we ready to surf the wave of AI, or will the tide wipe us out?

Also read: Tom Cruise Falls Victim to AI Cloning in Olympics Attacks.

Embracing AI with Caution and Confidence

In a series of tweets, George encouraged the Sagaftra family to consider the realities of technology’s unstoppable march. He pointed out that significant opposition to the new contract, which includes consent and compensation clauses for AI, came from those who hadn’t yet read the details. George further stated that the focus should not be on halting AI but on adjusting to its assured inclusion in the entertainment sector while establishing protective measures.

Similarly, George’s tweets imply that AI could improve actors’ work-life balance by utilizing their digital likenesses for reshoots or background roles. This also opens up opportunities for actors to simultaneously earn from various projects or dedicate more time to their families, as their AI counterparts can work in their stead. But he also underscores the importance of consent, ensuring actors have control over the use of their likeness and are compensated accordingly.

The Rising Tide of AI: Opposition and Advocacy

While George represents a voice of moderation and adaptation, others within the industry express deep concern. Katja Herbers of “Evil” and “Westworld” fame shared George’s thread with a warning, indicating a potential ‘no’ vote on the contract. Her concern resonates with many actors, who fear that AI might not just supplement but eventually supplant human performers.

On the same accord, Justine Bateman, filmmaker, actress, and SAG-AFTRA’s AI advisor, expressed a more alarming view on MSNBC. She likened the negotiation process to a gruesome bargain with cannibals and advocated for an industry that prioritizes human creativity and employment.

A Future Shaped by Actors, Not Algorithms

George’s argument is not without merit, though. He highlights the current state of AI as an enhancer rather than a replacer, noting that a completely AI-generated synthetic fake has yet to replace a performer. The battle, according to George, has not begun, but the industry is preparing for it with the new contract requiring producers to notify SAG-AFTRA whenever a Synthetic Fake is used.

“To be clear, We may still have a fight someday against Synthetic Fakes, completely AI-generated characters that don’t look like any individual performers. But, as far as we know, no performer has yet been replaced by an AI-generated synthetic fake. That battle has not yet begun.”

The contract’s alteration provisions, similar to those for dubbing and ADR, aim for better quality and fair practices. This raises a pivotal question: Can actors and creatives find empowerment in AI, turning potential threats into opportunities for innovation and collaboration?

The possibility of AI supplanting human actors isn’t imminent, George asserts, as the business still relies heavily on real actors for promotion. The unique human element they bring to storytelling and marketing is irreplaceable, a sentiment shared by actors who disdain acting opposite inanimate objects like tennis balls.

In conclusion, the integration of AI in the entertainment industry is met with a mix of resistance, acceptance, and proactive strategizing. While the fear of replacement looms, the current focus remains on utilizing AI responsibly and advantageously.

As the debate continues, the industry watches closely, ready to adapt to future AI. The question is not whether AI will influence the entertainment industry, but how and when. With the proper protections and attitudes in place, perhaps actors can indeed surf the wave of AI without getting wiped out by the tide of progress.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.