AI threatening jobs in the entertainment industry, warns union

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are replacing skilled professionals and threatening employment opportunities in the performing arts industry, a union has warned.

Equity, which represents performing arts workers, has announced a new campaign that aims to strengthen performers’ rights to address what it describes as the “rapid development” of AI across the entertainment industry.

The organisation says that the use of the technology across the audio and audio-visual sector – including in automated audiobooks and digital avatars – has advanced significantly in recent years and is replacing skilled professional performers due to the perception it’s cheaper and more convenient.

It said that many artists that get involved with AI work are not being compensated fairly and are sometimes not paid at all.

“The explosion of artificial intelligence across the entertainment industry is a significant and growing concern for audio artists and other performers,” warned Paul W Fleming, Equity general secretary. “We are working hard to protect our members as bosses try to increase profits by replacing skilled professionals with AI systems; but without Government action to modernise UK law we could see dystopian consequences for performers and permanent damage to our world leading industry.

“Workers everywhere need action on AI – from checkout tills to feature films, from call centres to videogames – to ensure this new technology enhances their working lives, and not just the bosses’ bottom line.”

Equity says that most performers do not understand their rights before signing employment contracts, adding that it is common for performers to have their image, voice or likeness used without their permission.

It claims that they are often asked to sign non-disclosure agreements without being provided with the full information about the job. The union said that it has also witnessed the emergence of deepfake technology .

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