The Writer’s Guild of America is currently on strike and one of the things they are fighting for is that, going forward, the writers of screenplays must be human. According to an article about the strike and ChatGPT on Fortune.com, “the WGA’s basic agreement defines a writer as a “person” and only a human’s work can be copyrighted.” What is happening?!
I have not played around with ChatGPT, or any chatbots for that matter, but in the mere six months since its release, have been shocked, as many have, by the implications it poses. In the same Fortune.com article about the strike, they write that “the World Economic Forum this week released a report predicting that nearly a quarter of all jobs will be disrupted by AI over the next five years.” And, according to me, five years is basically like two minutes, so this is happening now.
I try to imagine a bot of any kind doing my job and have a hard time seeing how it could. At least for now. Until they create a robot who wants to wash bras and underwear in a sink at night while the rest of the clothing spins in a machine or is sent to dry cleaning, who wants to iron and remove stains and punch one more hole in a too large belt or hold a coat for an actor on a cold night, my manual labor job feels weirdly secure. For all of the reasons my job drives me crazy and has worn down my body and messes with my sleep, it appears safe for now. As long as they keep making movies with real live actors that is.
At any point all of the things we take for granted can shift and change and disappear and have done so for millennia, shocking us every time; horse and buggies, pay phones, CDs, family farms, Blockbuster, the list is too long. But, it’s always been this way, no? Do I just sound like an old person stuck in their ways, looking back longingly to the analog days of the 1980’s? Or is this something bigger and more existential as we try to imagine our place as a species in the world going forward?
AI can create art and write songs and stories, but without the experience of being human behind them, will they resonate? Does it matter? Will we, as humans, continue to bring our pasts, experiences, and ideas and simply project them onto everything we come into contact with, thereby making it meaningful? Regardless of who created it? I do not know.
There is a beautiful song by Anaïs Mitchell called Real World-
I wanna live in the real world
Wake up with real birds singing
Loud enough to be really heard
By us in the real world
I wanna lie in the real grass
Watch the real clouds
Rolling past the pastures
The everlasting feels of a real world
I wanna talk with my mouth full
Pass around a vegetables with
Real folks at a real table
A meal in the real world
I wanna dance in your real grip
Feel your real hands on my hips
Taste real whiskey on your lips
When we kiss in the real world
I wanna cry on your shoulder
Rеal feelings flowing over
Blow my nose while you
Rеally hold me close in the real world
I wanna live in a real world
Wake up to real birds singing
Loud enough to be really heard
By us in a real world