Hollywood studios have proposed to use artificial intelligence to scan the faces of extras and use their likeness in perpetuity — and people are comparing the situation to a recent episode of Black Mirror.
On Thursday, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) officially declared its intention to go on strike, with one of the many areas of concern for the union being the use of AI within the industry.
During a press conference, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) had made a so-called “groundbreaking” proposal that, with the use of AI, would allow the likenesses of film and television background performers to be used indefinitely.
“They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan of their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation,” he said (via Reuters). “So if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again.”
Many have since noted that the proposal is eerily reminiscent of the season six Black Mirror episode ‘Joan Is Awful’, in which actors and members of the public have their likeness used in AI-generated TV shows.
This scene in Black Mirror's 'Joan is Awful' about how entertainment companies could control a person's likeness and use it as they desire, including data from cellphones, is frightening — and according to the SAG-AFTRA negotiations, not too far off from reality.
— Ahmar Khan (@AhmarSKhan) July 14, 2023
If the studios legit thought that using AI to recreate the actors' likeness in this way was a good idea, then throw all of Hollywood away. Didn't we JUST see this on #BlackMirror? #SAGstrike #SAGAFTRA pic.twitter.com/TQ61XILfaz
— Emmanuel (E-Man) Noisette (@EmansReviews) July 13, 2023
BLACK MIRROR IN 2013: here’s what the world might look like in 25 years
BLACK MIRROR IN 2023: Hollywood producers, driven in no small part by Netflix, will release a proposal to use AI to obtain permanent likeness of actors, without pay. This will happen in 2 weeks
— sadvil 😎 (@sadvil) July 13, 2023
The Hollywood strike is motivated by a licensing issue that surfaced from the Black Mirror "Joan is Awful" episode. Can you sign away your likeness rights? My prediction is in the USA the law will favor people over corporations. Thus AI law may be such that copyright to… pic.twitter.com/BySBCc3zLL
— Carlos E. Perez (@IntuitMachine) July 14, 2023
The wild part about the AI scanning & using actor's likeness is that the FIRST episode of this season of Black Mirror covers exactly THIS.
— Alyssa Sweetman (@Alykkat) July 13, 2023
“This scene in Black Mirror‘s ‘Joan is Awful’ about how entertainment companies could control a person’s likeness and use it as they desire, including data from cellphones, is frightening — and according to the SAG-AFTRA negotiations, not too far off from reality,” tweeted one person.
Another wrote: “If the studios legit thought that using AI to recreate the actors’ likeness in this way was a good idea, then throw all of Hollywood away. Didn’t we JUST see this on Black Mirror?”
The use of AI has also been a point of contention during the ongoing writer’s strike, in which the Writers Guild of America has demanded the AMPTP ban AI from being used to write and rewrite material.