Today’s episode is a deep dive into the collision of AI and the future of entertainment, against the backdrop of the still-raging Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Nathan Labenz sits down with Trey Kollmer, Sophia Lear, and Garrett Schabb – all seasoned television writers and Guild members – to discuss the labor dispute. While the strike encompasses many dynamics, the timely intersection with a rapidly changing AI landscape has the writers entwined in the wild possibilities and existential threats of paradigm-shifting technology. Other entertainment guilds and labor unions are watching closely.
Note: Nathan kicks off this episode with a longer-than-usual introduction and analysis as the subject matter of this episode requires some added context. If you would prefer to dive straight into the interviews, follow the timecodes below to skip ahead (and maybe give the intro a listen when you finish!)
More about our guests Trey Kollmer, Sophia Lear, and Garrett Schabb and their work:
Trey Kollmer, currently co-executive producer for the TV show Ghosts, was described to me as perhaps the single most knowledgeable guild member on the topic of AI. Follow him at @treyko on Twitter.
Sophia Lear has been a writer for TV shows including Ghosts, The Unicorn, and New Girl, and was also previously an assistant literary editor for the New Republic.
Garrett Schabb has written for shows including Tosh.0 and Suits (of Meghan Markle fame), and has also written for Crooked Media. Follow him at @garrettschabb
The AI Breakdown: https://pod.link/1680633614
As anyone in AI knows, the pace of progress of new releases is relentless. The AI Breakdown is a daily podcast (10-20min long) that helps us ensure we don't miss anything important by curating news and analysis.
(01:54) Introduction and analysis for this episode
(09:02) Trey Kollmer breaks down the dynamics of compensation, ownership and crediting for WGA writers, issues at the heart of the strike
(14:52) Sponsor: Omneky
(15:09) Recommendation: The AI Breakdown
(17:16) What are the attitudes and implementation of AI in the writer’s room?
(22:42) Usefulness of AI for script writing (and will better training out of jailbreaks make it less useful?)
(30:59) The main two AI-related demands of the labor dispute
(34:44) Is there any way to police or standardize use?
(42:48) Writers’ diverse reactions to AI, from hostility to experimentation
(50:00) Picturing a long term Utopian future
(57:46) Sophia Lear breaks down sentiments around GPT-4, AI-generated scripts and the previous eras of crappy sitcoms and bad streaming series (written by humans)
(1:08:19) Dissecting quality
(1:11:27) Whose jobs are safe?
(1:17:03) Garrett Schabb breaks down dystopian/realistic view of studio’s incentives
(1:20:33) How Garrett uses ChatGPT
(1:27:37) Ethical boundaries of using the model to write like your favorite writers
(1;32:16) The two types of storytelling in the future, UBI and decoupling writing from a profession
Thank you Omneky for sponsoring The Cognitive Revolution. Omneky is an omnichannel creative generation platform that lets you launch hundreds of thousands of ad iterations that actually work, customized across all platforms, with a click of a button. Omneky combines generative AI and real-time advertising data. Mention "Cog Rev" for 10% off.
Music Credit: MusicLM
More show notes and reading material released in our Substack: https://cognitiverevolution.substack.com