A.I. Is Already Taking Jobs Away From Human Actors

"Mamma Mia!" actor Sara Poyzer said her job in an upcoming BBC documentary had been taken by A.I.

Actor Sara Poyzer
Mamma Mia! actor Sara Poyzer said her role in a BBC documentary would be replaced by A.I. Mike Marsland/WireImage

Artificial intelligence’s (A.I.) integration into Hollywood and other acting industries is happening more rapidly than people may think, which is why the Screen Actors Guild (SAG or SAG-AFTRA) had to add a clause about the technology into its contract with the film and TV studios last year. Still, the rules of what the production companies can and can’t do with A.I. are still largely unclear.

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This is why British theater actor Sara Poyzer, who was in the stage musical Mamma Mia!, posted on X on Tuesday (March 26) that her role in a BBC documentary would be replaced by A.I. She tagged the U.K. trade union for performing artists and the BBC Arts in the post and attached a screenshot of an email saying, “Sorry for the delay – we have had the approval from BBC to use the A.I. generated voice so we won’t need Sara anymore.”  

According to a statement from the BBC, Poyzer’s voice would have been used as a stand-in for a contributor who is “nearing the end of life” and could no longer speak in the “highly sensitive” documentary film. After discussions with the contributor’s family, the network decided not to go with Poyzer and use A.I. instead.      

In these very particular circumstances and with the family’s wishes in mind we have agreed to use A.I. for a brief section to recreate a voice which can now no longer be heard,” The BBC said. “This will be clearly labelled within the film.”  

The BBC was recently criticized for using A.I. in a promotional ad for the upcoming Doctor Who season. The broadcaster said it would not use the technology to promote the series again, but BBC Director General Tim Davie said in a speech on Tuesday that BBC would continue incorporating A.I. in its content on its “own terms.” However, he did note that the process will rely on partnerships with tech companies. 

In the U.S., prominent Hollywood figures have raised alarm bells about how A.I. will take jobs from actors and other industry workers without the right protections. Billionaire filmmaker Tyler Perry recently said OpenAI’s new video-generating technology influenced him to stop the expansion of his studio. He also revealed that he had used A.I. in some upcoming movies of his. 

“I just hope that as people are embracing this technology and as companies are moving to reduce costs and save the bottom line, that there’ll be some sort of thought and some sort of compassion for humanity and the people that have worked in this industry and built careers and lives, that there’s some sort of thought for them,” Perry said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in February. 

Though A.I. made it into the finalized SAG contract with the Hollywood studios last year, it was a highly contested issue in the union and not everyone was satisfied with the protections. Outside of just film and TV, the union is also fighting for actor protection against their A.I. likeness being used in video games without consent.   

A.I. Is Already Taking Jobs Away From Human Actors