Center for American Progress

Opinion: Hollywood writers’ strike is about more than money. It’s also about having power over AI.
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Opinion: Hollywood writers’ strike is about more than money. It’s also about having power over AI.

David Madland explains why workers need strong tools to bargain with employers over disruptive technology.

The strike by film and television writers that began on May 2 is relevant to our lives for far more than just the fate of our favorite shows.  It is an important test of whether – and how — workers can get fairly paid as technology, including artificial intelligence, alters their jobs.

More than 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America felt compelled to go on strike because the jobs that they and their predecessors fought to make into solid middle-class careers with the potential for significantly higher pay have been undermined by streaming technologies, and they fear AI could be used to potentially reduce their compensation further.  Because writers are one of the first groups of workers to bargain over AI the results may have outsized impacts on the rest of us. 

Median weekly pay for screenwriters has, adjusting for inflation, declined by 14 percent over the past 5 years and for writer-producers declined by 23 percent over the past decade, even as entertainment firms have been quite profitable, according to the Writers Guild.  Streaming has allowed writers to reach greater audiences, but it has also altered the structure that enabled them to earn a decent living and make more money when shows found additional audiences.  Writers also worry that AI will be used to shift their jobs towards low-paid editing of computer-generated material.

The above excerpt was originally published in MarketWatch. Click here to view the full article.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project


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