Jason Winston George, “Grey’s Anatomy” star and SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee member, is respectfully disagreeing with those arguing that artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry is wholly a bad thing. In a series of tweets directed at union members, he explained that it is “unrealistic and impossible to try and hold back the tide when it comes to technology” and that the new deal will “allow you to surf the wave of AI technology.”
George began, “@sagaftra family, As a negotiating committee member, let’s talk about the important #Consent & #Compensation protections for AI in this new contract Major opponents spoke out before even reading the contract and seem to want want an absolute prohibition on the use of AI.”
Instead of being afraid of AI, he argued, actors and creatives can embrace it. George continued, “Not only is it unrealistic and impossible to try and hold back the tide when it comes to technology, these new @sagaftra protections actually allow you to surf the wave of AI technology when it comes to the use of your face and likeness.”
Furthermore, he said, the new contract could offer a better work-life balance. George wrote, “If a producer wants to PAY ME MY NEGOTIATED RATE to stay home — or better yet to work another job — while they use my AI digital replica in the background of a reshoot By all means, I’ll take the check while I’m w/my family or I’ll double dip and get checks for two projects at once.”
He also added that the protections in place will help actors “fight” once synthetic replacements for real humans are here, something that studios can’t do (for now). If studios are required to get an actor’s permission to use their likeness, the new protections help guarantee that studios will be required to notify the union each time.
Not everyone agrees with his assessment. “Evil” star Katja Herbers, who also starred on HBO’s AI-inspired “Westworld,” shared George’s thread and wrote, “Highly concerning thread which makes me think we’ll have to vote NO on the SAG deal. We can’t let AI replace actors, it will kill our entire industry.”
This sentiment is shared by filmmaker and actress Justine Bateman, who also serves as SAG-AFTRA’s AI advisor. She told MSNBC’s Ali Veshi on Saturday that actors should vote for the new contract “if they don’t want to work anymore” and added, “If they want to be replaced by synthetic objects that are made by generative AI, why not?”
Bateman also broke down the negotiation process by comparing it to cannibalism. She added, “The train track is split. One train track is going, ‘OK, we’re going to participate in this sort of negotiation with the cannibals and we’re going to talk about just how you’re going to be cutting my foot off, and are you going to grill it or boil it, and what kind of sauce are you going to put on it?’”
“I’m on a different track, which, I’m going to be making human things for human audiences with human crews and casts and so forth. And we’ll see what happens,” she said.