The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has written to the ministers of Canadian Heritage and Innovation, Science and Industry asking for protection for Canadian creators in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).
The national association, representing 2,500 professional screenwriters working in English-language film, television, radio, and digital media production, says it has growing concerns around the rapid development of AI and the threat it represents to Canadian artists and creators.
“While AI has been in development for some time, the recent launch of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools represent a paradigm shift in the ability of this technology to create text, audio, visual, and audiovisual content that could compete with, or even replace, human content creators,” wrote Neal McDougall, Assistant Executive Director, WGC. “This in turn threatens the economic wellbeing of Canadian artists, as well as their role as social critics and commentators, and ultimately their fundamental human dignity as artists.”
McDougall says the impacts of AI on the creative sector with respect to public policy are far-reaching, from copyright and cultural funding to industrial relations. He says the organization is already concerned over the use of AI in children’s programming and that cultural policy should support “nourishment for the mind and soul” rather than “manufacturing junk.”
“Our industry should be supporting an environment that allows for the creation of the best that human beings can achieve, not mass-producing artificial content that fills up space but leaves us feeling bloated but empty,” wrote McDougall.
Among the WGC recommendations is that AI not be recognized as an “author” under the Copyright Act, nor should the Copyright Act be amended to diminish or derogate the rights of human creators for the benefit of AI or those who design, manage, use, or own AI. It also wants public funding for culture to remain for the benefit of human creators.
The WGC says it’s united with its French counterpart, Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinema (SARTEC), in a “strong belief that AI must not undermine screenwriters’ economic wellbeing or human dignity as artists.”
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