Writers Guild of Great Britain unveils AI guidelines amid member concerns

According to the Writers Guild of Great Britain, 65% of respondents to a recent survey sent to its members said they believe the increased use of artificial intelligence will reduce their income from writing. Meanwhile, 61% said they were concerned that AI could replace their job.

In response, the union published Writers and artificial intelligencea policy position statement outlining the challenges it believes are caused by AI and the risks that come with it, as well as the potential benefits of AI to the writing profession, such as its use to detect copyright infringements.

Current AI concerns identified inWriters and artificial intelligenceinclude curtailing employment opportunities for writers, suppression of writers’ pay, copyright violations, and using writers’ work without their permission, as well as lack of proper government regulation . A total of 81% of survey respondents believed that writers should be paid when their work is used by AI systems.

The guild argues that while AI systems are not yet sophisticated enough to accurately mimic the standard of writing produced by professional writers, this will be a likely future scenario. However, she said she didn’t believe AI would ever be able to match the originality, authenticity, enthusiasm, and humanity that professional writers bring to their storytelling. She also suggested that the potential benefits of AI include the ability for writers to diversify and increase their income streams and support a writing career.

Within Writers and AI, the WGGB makes a number of recommendations that it says will help inform its lobbying and campaigning work going forward.

These include:

  • AI developers should only use the work of writers if they have received explicit permission to do so, reflecting the viewpoint of 80% of respondents to the WGGB survey.
  • AI developers should maintain clear and accessible records of the information used to train their tool to allow authors to verify whether their work has been used, reflecting the 82% of respondents who said developers should be transparent about what data they used in building AI systems, including where they used the work of writers.
  • Where content has been generated or decisions have been made by artificial intelligence and not a human, it must be clearly labeled as such.
  • Where AI has been used to create content, AI developers should properly credit the authors whose work has been used to create that content.
  • 59% of respondents to the WGGB’s AI survey believe a new independent regulator should be set up to oversee and monitor the expansion of AI and the union believes the government should set up a new regulatory body whose responsibilities cover specifically AI, applicable to all future and previous AI development work, so that writers and others can assert their rights to work that has already been used without their knowledge or permission.
  • The government should not allow any copyright exceptions to allow text and data mining for commercial purposes. This would allow AI developers to scrape writers’ work from online sources, without permission or payment.
  • There should also be clear, accessible, and affordable pathways for writers to challenge the practices of AI developers and make complaints about the use of their work.

There have been some incredible advances in artificial intelligence, but as with any new technology, we must weigh the risks against the benefits and ensure that the pace of development does not exceed or derail the protections upon which writers and the creative workforce at large they rely on to make a living, said WGGB Deputy Secretary-General Lesley Gannon.

Regulation is clearly needed to safeguard workers’ rights and protect the public from fraud and misinformation. WGGB proposes a number of sensible recommendations that will help protect and reassure the writing community, enabling them to reap the benefits of this undoubtedly powerful tool.

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