‘AI is not a writer:’ Why the writers’ strike deal matters beyond Hollywood

As Hollywood writers get back to work, the AI protections they won will help others keep their jobs (for now).

You don’t have to be a screenwriter to toast the end of the Writers Guild of America’s 148-day work stoppage — but if you are one, you’ll have a little more in your champagne budget.

A man carries a WGA (Writers Guild of America) sign that reads 'Humanity vs. AI.'

After a bruising campaign, the WGA secured a new three-year labor agreement on Sunday that increases pay, raises streaming residuals, and stabilizes writers’ rooms.

But it’s the deal’s AI provisions that’ll be particularly impactful, as they’ll be felt far beyond studio backlots.

How AI will be governed in Hollywood

AI was a final sticking point to be resolved, per Variety. The agreement’s basics include:

  • “AI is not a writer”: The deal clarifies that AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, be used for source material, or supplant a writer’s credit.
  • Optional usage, mandated disclosure: Writers can use chatbots as they please, but no studio can require them to use AI software. Studios must also disclose to writers if materials they’re provided have been generated by AI.
  • Scripts will fuel AI development: WGA’s big concession here was that existing scripts can be used to train AI models.

What it means for everyone else

The WGA deal is one of the first (and most high-profile) contracts to place formal worker protections around AI, and it’ll set the stage for other negotiations, including but not limited to active strikes involving actors, animators, and video game performers.

As such, it will help direct the pace of AI adoption across industries. The deal also initiates standard employee safeguards; as one attorney involved in AI negotiations told Bloomberg, “Consent, compensation, and clarity have been missing from the equation up until now.”

At the very least, by guaranteeing human writers’ involvement in all projects, the WGA has ensured the scenario its members fear (i.e., AI stealing jobs) won’t happen — for the next three years, at least.

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