It’s not the first time that technology has upende…

In Hollywood, where movies and culture mix, a drama is unfolding that’s not from a script, but from the actions of actors and writers themselves. The Writers Guild of America(WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strikes against the film studios are really about an age-old issue in American entertainment­: the disruptive role of new technologies as they periodically upend the established order. The history of film and the film industry has been shaped by the introduction of new technologies, from sound and color to television and video. Today, it’s streaming and artificial intelligence.

In each case, the industry was wary of these innovations. Television and video were both seen as existential threats. And in truth, they were. However, the players who realized that innovations could be employed to create revenue streams beyond the box office saw profits well beyond any that had existed before. 

Once again, we find the entertainment sector in the throes of technology-driven radical change.

For the actors and writers, these issues are fairly straightforward. While streaming companies technically pay residuals to actors and writers, the payments are significantly lower than those generated by films released theatrically or broadcast TV series, given the opaque system used by streamers to allocate revenue to individual films or TV series.

Additionally, the streamers’ preference to limit series episodes to no more than 10 per season significantly reduces residuals for the actors and writers. The specter of AI further raises the question of actors losing control of their likenesses and being replaced by AI-generated characters. Writers may need to share credit with–or lose jobs to–AI-generated scripts. The complication of the recent court ruling that artworks generated entirely by artificial intelligence cannot be copyrighted is easily overcome. Hollywood will merely combine humans into the writing and filmmaking process. 

These strikes…

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