As both writers and actors are on the picket lines in Hollywood, the stakes couldn’t be higher: Will average entertainment workers be able to eke out a living in an industry awash in cash, or will studio executives use new tech like AI to gobble up all of it?

by Alex N. Press, Jacobin

Before she appeared on HBO’s White House Plumbers and Fox’s New Girl, Stevie Nelson hosted a television show on Nickelodeon. On Crashletes, she and her cohosts, along with an audience of kids, reacted to viral videos of people failing at sports. The production ran for three seasons, wrapping at the end of 2020 with a total of sixty episodes.

Nelson worries that soon, a studio could use that body of work to train artificial intelligence (AI) to create a likeness of her to be used in perpetuity: a digital Stevie Nelson, doing things that she has never done, saying things that she has never said, yet indistinguishable from the real Stevie Nelson, based on her past on-screen work.

Writers and Actors Strike in front of Netflix Building, in Hollywood, Los Angeles

“There’s enough footage of me that they could technically have me host other shows for the rest of my life without ever having done it, and I’m sure I would not be fairly compensated for it,” said Nelson. “The idea of not a real person hosting shows is scary. The magic of acting, and of hosting, is its impromptu nature. I can’t imagine how soulless it all would be to replace it with AI.”

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