Actors worry that AI is taking center stage

We are used to thinking that artificial intelligence will come for the first time. It seemed reasonable to assume that AI would transform or even eliminate jobs in sectors such as accounting and insurance, while work associated with human traits such as creativity would be relatively untouched. But this theory is getting more and more fragile day by day. One group of workers who are really starting to worry about AI are actors and other performers.

a exploratory study This year by Equity, the UK’s union of actors and other performing arts professionals, 65 per cent of members believe AI is a threat to job opportunities in the sector, rising to 93 per cent of sound artists. This wasn’t just an amorphous fear about the future: More than a third of members had seen job listings for work involving AI and nearly a fifth had done some of that work.

A group of AI startups is developing tools to be used in movies and audio, made by actors you look younger to create AI voices They can be used in marketing campaigns, consumer aides, or even audiobook narration. Voice is a popular medium now that companies need a lot of it, but human actors are expensive and nowhere near as flexible as AI voice, which can be made to say anything with the push of a button. These companies usually hire representatives to provide hours of audio that can then be converted to audio in exchange for hire.

VocaliD, for example, Offers A range of sounds such as “owner” (“warm, calming, urban”), “terry” (“educated, optimistic, sophisticated”) and “a very intelligent British voice” (“trustworthy, warm, calm.”) Another AI company Just acquired by Spotify, it creates sounds that can laugh, scream or crying. Her voices are often used By video game companies in the production process so they can play with different scripts.

They are not as good as humans, but they need not be. Industry experts say no one is going to use AI to narrate the audiobook to a best-selling novel, but there is still a market to exploit in the huge number of lesser-known books being published or self-published each year. audiobook.ai, for exampleHe says he can create an audiobook in 10 minutes with 146 voices to choose from in 43 languages.

Voice actors aren’t just worried about losing business to these singers. They are also concerned about their rights when they help create AI characters. Both Equity and SAG-AFTRA, the US equivalent, Say They see contracts for AI work that give tech companies the right to irrevocably and forever use an actor’s image or voice. Nondisclosure agreements are also common. Young actors, in particular, may be drawn to the initial fee only to regret the long-term effects.

What kind of effects? Once your voice or face is out in the wild and you have no control over it, you may find it connected to something violent when your heart is set in a career in children’s movies. Or you may find that your likeness works for a competitor to a company that you now want to join. as property rights explain In his guidance to members who do AI-related work: “If you were later asked to work on an exclusive basis for another client, would having your voice in AI and its ability to work with competitors be a contractual issue?”

Stocks are calling the UK government to Copyright law update To ensure that performers have the right to control the “copy” performances made by AI. Unions on both sides of the Atlantic are also trying to strike deals with tech companies that give performers a fee when their AI voice or images are used, as well as the right to agree to their use in each new scenario. Some companies already do this: Sonantic Says It has a profit sharing agreement with the voice actors, for example.

There are opportunities as well as threats. With decent contract agreements in place, it can be very beneficial for the actors to have a passive income source from their AI version, which works hard it can be boring but still brings in some money. AI also opens up the possibility of more flexible work for people who cannot always be on standby, whether for health or family reasons.

Having said that, the broader lesson of the world of work is that AI doesn’t have to be “as good as humans” to start disrupting things for ordinary workers. In Hollywood, as in the economy as a whole, the stars will be fine – everyone will have to stay on their toes.

sarah.oconnor@ft.com

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