The 2023 Writers’ Strike vs. AI: Fighting Creative Bankruptcy

Even the most uncreative, awful stories are better than a world where AI scripts are the default.

The Writers Guild of America officially declared a strike recently—their first in 15 years. The Writer’s Strike of 2007 incidentally also began the very same month as Ogiue Maniax, so while this blog isn’t directly related to their cause, I feel a kind of connection to them. This is a form of writing, after all, even if it isn’t the kind that gets made into TV shows or movies on Netflix. 

I’m in full support of this strike, but one thing I want to focus on is their preemptive motive to restrict the use and crediting of AI software like ChatGPT, and to emphasize that all writers need to be human. The worry, as far as I can tell, is that studios and media companies will try to use AI to churn out basic scripts and then have the writers clean them up for less pay than they’d normally get. In the highly capitalist United States of America, we’re accustomed to seeing cost-cutting measures that punish the workers and reward the executives, so this would hardly be a surprising development.

My stance on this particular issue is that the writers are justified in their concern and are totally in the right. I’m not inherently against AI providing some form of entertainment. I spent many years enjoying the hell out of VGCW, which basically pit AI wrestlers against one another in a video game and then wrote a story around it. However, that pretty much amounts to using AI as an improvisational prompt not unlike Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?, and the majority of the creative output comes from actual people.

The human connection to writing is paramount, and I think this is something that should concern all writers and fans of media regardless of skill, ethics, or political beliefs. Someone could make the most derivative and poorly written story, and that would still be preferable to an AI script precisely because it is someone’s work that they put out through their own effort, even if it’s “bad.” I occasionally see arguments that using AI can stick it to the liberal Hollywood media or whatever. However, it’s a mistake to think this would only affect people on one side of the political spectrum. This will bite people in the ass regardless of their beliefs—no one wants to have their work trivialized.

The thing I find most insidious about the push for using AI for writing and other areas is that the assumption of cost-cutting implies the notion that writers, artists, etc. are somehow paid too much. Creative fields are notoriously unstable, and acting as if they’re the biggest cost sink is either disingenuous or horrendously shortsighted. I hope the strikers win this one, and that we have a media landscape where writers can feel like they are both fairly compensated and not treated like nannies for AI chat programs.