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Will artificial intelligence take away the need for screenwriters?

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Jul 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-31 17:00:10-04

These days, there are so many options to watch content online. A Forbes survey found 86% of people pay for more than one streaming service each month.

What if you were scrolling for something to watch on one of those streaming services, and half of the shows and movies were created by artificial intelligence?

Would you want to know which ones were, and which ones weren't?

This isn't a reality yet, but it's a possibility in our future and a big reason why both screenwriters and actors are on strike right now. They want to have rules and guidance surrounding artificial intelligence so they still have jobs in a decade.

Sachin Dharwadker is a Writers Guild of America screenwriter in Los Angeles. He’s written one tv show so far, and was in the final stages of developing his own show when the strike started.

"I think if you go out and ask anyone if they want to watch stuff written by AI or kind of spearheaded by AI, most of them would laugh at that," Dharwadker said. "Most of them would say, like, 'that sounds horrible.' When it comes down to it, I don't think people actually want to watch that. And that's ultimately the question that has to be answered."

Dharwadker says he hopes there will be strict cap on how AI can be used.

"There is not a viable path for it to have like anything more than a supporting role in what we do," Dharwadker said. "Writing is a very difficult profession, and it requires, if you want to make a good story about human experience, you have to be a human. I mean, you just can't be something else."

AI expert Chris Gomes Muffat is the founder of Promptify. It's a service that will soon let you design a template for AI to write a screenplay or novella.

He doesn't believe the need for screenwriters will disappear, but he thinks they will see a major shift in their career.

"I think they will be the one that will prompt the generative AI to produce the story," Muffat said. "And your ability to be a good writer will not be in producing the right content, but rather asking the right question."

Muffat says there will need to be rigorous testing for bias within the AI, but he thinks it will increase productivity.

He also thinks it will open up the screenwriting industry to more people.

"I can compete with Hollywood just because of the technology I have access to," Muffat said.

Whether AI becomes a huge part of the screenwriting experience or not, Dharwadker says he doesn't plan to use it.

In the meantime, while he waits for the unions and Hollywood industry to come to an agreement, he’s exploring other creative avenues to pay the bills like posting a Substack newsletter about the strike and movies he’s watching.