Generative AI poses a threat to the livelihoods of creative professionals, warn industry experts

Generative AI tools like DALL.E 2, SORA, Chat GPT, Bard (Gemini), and Copilot have opened up possibilities for creating images, text, and music from a single prompt. The generative AI market is projected to grow by 42% and reach $1.3tn by 2032, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mandeep Singh.

However, the use of generative AI has raised concerns for those whose livelihood depends on their creativity. Laurence Bouvard, an actress and voiceover artist, explains that GenAI has made it even more challenging to make a living. Some industry giants in the TV and film sector are using generative AI to exploit workers’ rights and jeopardize their livelihoods.

The book “Data grab: The new colonialism of big tech and how to fight back” by Ulises A. Mejias and Nick Couldry highlights how generative AI tools exploit creative workers by scraping copyrighted content from the internet. This has happened unnoticed, as the hype around generative AI has overshadowed the issues of theft and enclosure.

Aside from the threat to workers’ livelihoods, there are concerns that generative AI could devalue original art. Artists like Chris Barker and Ela Lee worry that people might mistake AI-generated art for human creativity, stripping it of nuance and human connection. However, some creatives, like music producer and artist Serenda, see AI as an inspiration to push boundaries and create experimental art.

Workers and creators believe that the UK government has been slow to introduce new protections or update existing legislation to address the challenges posed by emerging technologies. The focus seems to be on tech companies’ self-regulation and profits rather than protecting workers’ rights. Tom Peters from Equity calls for the adoption of the Beijing Treaty to give performers more control over their work and ensure fair remuneration.

Despite government inaction, there is growing pushback against generative AI practices. Ed Newton Rex resigned from Stability AI due to ethical concerns, and the US Writers Guild of America went on strike to resist the exploitative use of AI. Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, suggests asserting creative rights through consent, compensation, control, and credit.

Creative workers play a crucial role in shaping the terms of AI use for their work. While there is hope for change through collective bargaining and legislative amendments, Bouvard warns that it may not happen soon enough to prevent serious damage to the industry.

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