Standing in Solidarity with Striking Writers

Today Abigail moved a motion in standing in solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America and calling for the urgent need to regulate the use of artificial intelligence.

I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move: 

(1) That this House notes that:

  1. on 2 May 2023, following weeks of negotiations, members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) commenced strike action against employers including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP),
  2. over the course of the negotiation, representatives of the WGA explained how the companies’ business practices have slashed workers’ compensation and residuals and undermined working conditions,
  3. the studios’ responses to the WGA’s proposals has been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing,
  4. the companies’ behaviour has created a gig economy inside a unionised workforce, and their immovable stance during negotiations has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,
  5. from studios’ refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a “day rate” in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession, and
  6. screenwriters involved in the strike want artificial intelligence to be used only as a tool to help research or facilitate script ideas, and to prevent literary material from being written or rewritten by the technology and to prevent AI from creating source materials - but studios have taken an expansive view of the labor-reducing and profit maximising possibilities of intellectual property capture and automation of creative processes.

(2) That this House notes that on Thursday 17 February 2023, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) National media Section Committee passed a resolution noting the risks and opportunities raised in relation to AI, in conjunction with a Draft Position Statement on AI which noted:

  1. the rapid advancement and distribution of AI – in particular,  generative AI – holds remarkable promise for societies, businesses and individuals, but also poses unique threats to their members’ work, income, rights and creative agency, and to the  continuation of Australian voices in a sustainable media and entertainment industry,
  2. the MEAA believes that responsibly-designed AI has the potential to usefully supplement, extend and enhance the work of their members, but also has far‐reaching consequences needing careful consideration, consultation and regulation, and
  3. there are a large number of identified threats posed by the use of AI in media including but not limited to potential job losses and reduced demand for media workers, commercial imperatives that drive for-profit AI tools resulting in proprietary systems that lack transparency, low job satisfaction by people who work with AI tools if these don’t allow creative freedom and the potential for AI tools to create unnecessary, low-value work for media professionals such as reviewing and editing automated text, 

(3) That this House notes:

  1. notes the risks and opportunities presented by the explosion of artificial intelligence and large language model technologies,
  2. affirms the social and cultural value of creative professions, and recognises their rights as workers deserving protection from corporate overreach and exploitation, 
  3. endorses the principle that for creative industries like writing, technologies should only be used as tools to assist writers and not as tools to replace writers,
  4. asserts that Australia’s AI Roadmap and AI Ethics Framework should both consider and guide the introduction of appropriately-regulated AI tools in the media industry, and also contain mechanisms for update to keep pace with fast-changing technology, and
  5. commits to developing a robust framework for the oversight and regulation of emerging technologies to protect the interests of workers.

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