As I write this, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) is on strike, and one of the critical points of contention is using AI. Members of the WGA are concerned that studios could use AI and the likes of ChatGPT to create original scripts or to train them to write scripts based on the previous work of screenplay writers.
There is a scene in the movie Barton Fink, where a movie producer is pitching a new movie and says to screenwriter, Barton Fink, “The important thing is that we all want it to have that Barton Fink feeling. I guess we all have that Barton Fink feeling, but since you’re Barton Fink, I am assuming you have it in spades.”
With the arrival of AI and ChatGPT, there is a risk that studios can make any number of movies with that Barton Fink feeling, or any other screenwriter for that matter, if they are adequately trained. You can see why WGA members are concerned.
If we look beyond this scenario to content, in broad terms, is there a risk that AI and ChatGPT can be used to create content that looks, reads, or feels like the work of someone but was not originated by them but simply derived from their work? Quite likely, yes.
I wrote a book last year, and I don’t know if I could stop someone from using it to train AI tools to write something new, reflecting my writing style. Someone could also use this blog or the series of blogs on this site to refine their approach.
It may sound counterintuitive to say that I am happy about the arrival of AI and ChatGPT. I have concerns, like the WGA members, but technology has always moved faster than policy. We are seeing a rate of disruption much faster than the arrival of the Internet, e-commerce, or mobile technologies.
I recently asked someone if they thought AI would steal our jobs. They answered, “No, but people who use AI would.” We will have to embrace the disruption as quickly as possible and find some middle ground where content creators are treated fairly by content seekers. And creators don’t have to live in fear that their intellectual property will be exploited.
That is very easy to say but will be challenging to do. New ways to leverage AI are popping up everywhere, and regulators are trying to catch up. It is a very dynamic space, and we should all be concerned that if we do not adapt, we risk being left behind.
That is a very “the sky is falling” kind of thing, but I have not seen such an extreme rate of change like this before in my thirty years in tech. We have the opportunity to embrace the change and influence its direction.
We have the potential to do great things with AI, but we won’t if we allow ourselves just to let things pass us by.