Mourners hold a Candelight Vigil for Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at the Burbank's IATSE Local 80 in Burbank, California on October 24, 2021. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

IATSE says AI is to be used as a tool and cannot replace its members

IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has established its “fundamental principles” on the use of AI in entertainment, the arts and media, drawing a line in the sand that AI should be used as a tool and not as a means of replacing workers or evading their rights.

“Workers in jobs that use AI should be afforded the same rights and protections as those in roles who have not historically used AI,” IATSE wrote on Wednesday. “New technology must not become an excuse to erode the conditions we have fought for for decades, nor must it become a way to bypass the union altogether. The implementation of AI and ML should not lead to job losses, but rather should serve as a tool, complementing the work done by our members. We are committed to continuing to defend the job security of our members in the face of AI integration.”

In a statement, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb added, “With AI, the stakes for IATSE members across all trades are high. There is a lot of work to be done, but I am pleased to report that the union’s efforts are already well underway.”

The guild language on artificial intelligence comes at a time when the WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA have all seen AI as a key talking point in negotiations with studios. The IATSE Core Principles outline eight different issues related to the implementation of artificial intelligence or machine learning.

IATSE has not called for a ban on AI, but the organization has called for more education, training and research into its use. He further stated that he would be involved in political organizing and advocacy around AI.

The guild has also asked studios to be transparent about their application of AI, regardless of what legislation is mandated, and that any negotiations on AI must be negotiated collectively through the guild.

“IATSE members will continue to be the best in the world at what we do. We have adapted to new technologies and even developed many of the tools and techniques that have propelled entertainment over the past 130 years. We will embrace new technologies and address the issue head-on,” IATSE said. “We affirm that our members have the right to receive appropriate training and upskilling opportunities to deal with any changes AI brings to their working environment “.

IATSE also said it supports the “Fundamental Principles for Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Support of Human Creativity and Achievement,” which was published by the Human Artistry Campaign. Among these requests are that IATSE members be fairly rewarded when their work is used to train AI systems or develop and generate new work, prioritize people involved in the creative process and protect them from intellectual property theft, improve transparency and prevent legal loopholes.

While the writers’ guild hasn’t made much progress on the AI ​​issue with the AMPTP, and the actors are in the midst of lengthy negotiations involving AI as a talking point, the directors’ guild has managed to wrap some of AI language in their new deal, specifically that AI is not considered a person and that studios must consult a director before AI is used in a project. IATSE has also made it clear that it wants to be involved in the discussion.

“The impact of AI on working conditions and roles falls under the mandatory subjects of collective bargaining. We are committed to negotiating provisions addressing AI in our future contracts,” the guild said. “IATSE requires transparency from employers regarding their use of AI, even in the absence of relevant government legislation. We are committed to safeguarding our members’ privacy rights and ensuring that AI applications adhere to the highest ethical standards, including non-discrimination and fairness.We also recognize that collective bargaining is the primary way to ensure that workers do not have to wait for government regulation through legislation, which may take years or may never come.”

Read the full list of core principles Here.