Unions and Workers Take a Stand Against AI Threat in 2023


  • Workers and unions resisted AI job threats in 2023, led by Hollywood’s writers and actors.
  • Lawsuits arose as creatives challenged tech giants over AI using their work.
  • AI created and displaced jobs, sparking concerns about ethics and human-machine learning.

In a year marked by escalating concerns over the encroachment of artificial intelligence (AI) into various industries, unions, and workers across the United States launched a formidable resistance against the perceived threat to their jobs and livelihoods. 

This revolt against the machines gained significant attention, with Hollywood’s Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) leading the charge in defense of their creative professions.

Hollywood strikes set the tone

The Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA found themselves on the front lines of the battle against AI in 2023. The strikes, which lasted for 148 days, centered on protecting the rights of writers and actors in the face of advancing AI technology. 

The key concerns for these unions differed, with writers aiming to prevent AI from being trained on their work without their consent. At the same time, actors sought to establish boundaries on how AI could replicate their performances.

Brian Merchant, the author of “Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech,” noted the significance of these strikes, especially in the rise of OpenAI and ChatGPT. Hollywood’s confrontation with AI marked a turning point, as workers and unions stood up against automation, ultimately emerging victorious in this groundbreaking face-off between humans and AI.

Rising concerns across industries

Hollywood strikes occurred against a backdrop of increasing fears across various professions about the potential displacement caused by AI and automation. In 2023, a wide range of workers, from painters to coders, contemplated the possibility of machines taking over their jobs. 

High-profile figures, such as IBM’s CEO, publicly acknowledged the potential for automation to replace thousands of jobs. A Goldman Sachs report further estimated that nearly 300,000 jobs globally could be affected by automation.

These concerns drove interest in the protections organized labor could offer workers in the AI age. However, some unions, like the United Auto Workers and Teamsters, appeared to lag in addressing AI’s potential impact on jobs. MIT engineering professor Yossi Sheffi emphasized the importance of recognizing the evolving nature of work and preparing the workforce for automation-related disruptions.

Beyond strikes and labor actions, individuals from various creative fields took legal action against tech giants like OpenAI, Meta, and Microsoft. Authors and visual artists filed lawsuits, alleging that their works had been used to train large language models. While these cases remained unresolved, they highlighted the legal challenges posed by AI’s absorption of creative content.

Government intervention

In November 2023, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to mitigate AI’s impact on employment and provide federal support for workers facing labor disruptions caused by AI and automation. 

Unions, including SAG-AFTRA, welcomed this move, which coincided with global leaders convening at the AI Safety Summit in the UK to address the challenges and opportunities presented by machine learning.

As AI continued its advance in 2023, it became clear that technology was a tool for enhancing human work and a potential threat to employment. Many individuals use AI to augment their creative endeavors, with some writers using AI for brainstorming purposes. However, concerns arose when AI began to take on more substantial creative tasks, potentially sidelining human workers.

While chatbots could not yet create fully developed scripts, novels, or artworks, the rapid evolution of AI technology made such developments seem imminent. Debates about the pace of AI development and its ethical implications, especially in for-profit contexts, gained prominence.

Job creation and displacement

AI raised fears of job displacement and introduced new employment opportunities in artificial intelligence. Companies like Microsoft and Salesforce offered jobs to AI experts, highlighting the dual nature of AI’s impact on employment.

However, it remained clear that AI could displace entry-level jobs while creating highly specialized positions. The central concern revolved around what AI machines were learning from humans, including both skills and biases.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Benson Mawira

Benson is a blockchain reporter who has delved into industry news, on-chain analysis, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc.His area of expertise is the cryptocurrency markets, fundamental and technical analysis.With his insightful coverage of everything in Financial Technologies, Benson has garnered a global readership.

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