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Hollywood writer’s strike is teaching us we can’t risk jumping the shark with ChatGPT

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Hollywood writer’s strike is teaching us we can’t risk jumping the shark with ChatGPT

Hollywood writer's strike

For anyone not closely watching Hollywood writer’s strike which has been ongoing since 2 May 2023, one of the key issues over and above the demand for an increase in pay and a better pay model, is the role that AI technology may play in the future.

Hollywood’s writers are rightly worried that as AI language model’s capabilities accelerate, studios will use AI like ChatGPT to replace the human-created work of writers. Imagine that, a computer programmed to emulate the inappropriate wit of Larry David or dark humour of the Coen brothers? 

This is no joke, that’s what’s at stake. 

AI not just a threat to Hollywood writer’s strike

And it’s not just TV and movie writers that should be concerned. The potential of AI language models is such that anyone employed to write original news stories, PR pitches, internal and external comms, op-eds, blog posts, advertising copy or media releases should be taking notice of how this dispute unfolds and is resolved.

The implications of AI, and AI language models like ChatGPT for Australia are under review by the government, which recently ended a consultation period that sought submissions on how AI might be regulated in Australia. 

One submission came from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), which argued that AI generated content had the potential for “mis/disinformation, bias and a deterioration of public trust in media”, should it be introduced without a proper regulatory framework. It also warned that jobs in the creative and journalism sectors were at risk from the rapid advancement of AI. 

Already, one media outlet owner in Australia is producing thousands of online stories each week using AI, which should give us pause for thought. AI might be cheaper but when it comes to doing the important work of real journalists, especially the ones holding those in power to account, cheaper doesn’t cut it.

As a content creator and distributor of curated original content based on our experts’ knowledge and opinions, our policy is to not distribute or publish any material created by ChatGPT or other AI language models. 

Two of the major strengths of our business, and many others in our field, are originality and accuracy. ChatGPT is notoriously inaccurate and obviously the text it produces is not original, because it’s drawn from existing Internet content. 

I’m not even sure how it could be effectively used in the creative sector.  The copy that the current version of ChatGPT creates is bland, repetitive, and totally lacking in nuance or flair.  

Wonderful original human created words bring ideas to life and are the currency of our creative industries in Australia. The moment we cede the acerbic wit of a journalist like Joe Aston or the playwriting mastery of David Williamson to AI, our industry will have jumped the shark, to steal a Hollywood line. 

Perhaps AI has the potential to assist journalists and creatives in the future, making their jobs easier, but is it really why anyone becomes a creative or what our industry needs?

We as an industry applaud the witty headline, clever advertising campaign or powerful op-ed, knowing that there’s a clever human mind behind their creation – one who’s pondered and laboured over every word to make something unique and impactful.   

To take this human element away from creatives and provide cookie cutter computer generated content to our audience is both a travesty and insult, which our industry should never embrace. 

Some might call me old fashioned, but I for one, never want to see Written by ChatGPT…. as the credits roll at the end of a movie, or as I turn the final page of a book.

John Solvander is the director of media engagement at Media Stable.


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