SAG Strike: Leveraging the TRAILS Institute to Address AI Concerns in the Entertainment Industry

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The SAG strike is a historic event in Hollywood labor relations. It marks the first strike by SAG-AFTRA since 2000 and the first impasse in reaching an agreement with AMPTP in over 30 years. With over 165,000 members, SAG-AFTRA is the world’s largest labor union representing media artists, collectively bargaining for wages, hours, and working conditions. The strike’s impact on the industry is significant, and its duration remains uncertain. As a result of the strike, SAG-AFTRA members are barred from participating in promotional activities, including attending red carpet premieres for their film and television work.

What we know

  • Fact 1: The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is a labor union representing over 165,000 actors, broadcasters, journalists, and other media professionals in the United States.
  • Fact 2: On June 30, 2023, the contracts between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired.
  • Fact 3: SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have been unable to reach a new agreement, and as a result, SAG-AFTRA went on strike on July 14, 2023.
  • Fact 4: The strike has effectively shut down Hollywood, as no new film or television production can take place without the consent of SAG-AFTRA.
  • Fact 5: The strike is currently ongoing, and it is unclear when it will end.


The ongoing SAG strike in the entertainment industry has highlighted the increasing relevance and potential implications of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. As actors and performers express concerns about the impact of AI on their creative control and job security, the TRAILS Institute’s expertise in expanding access to foundational education for historically marginalized and minoritized groups presents a valuable opportunity for resolution.


The proposal aims to leverage the TRAILS Institute’s mission and research program to address the concerns raised by SAG-AFTRA during the strike. By collaborating with the institute, the entertainment industry can benefit from informed and equitable decisions that promote transparency, inclusivity, and ethical AI practices.

Proposed Solutions

  1. Changing AI System Design and Development

The TRAILS Institute’s focus on working with affected communities aligns perfectly with the demands of SAG-AFTRA. By engaging actors and performers in participatory design processes, AI technologies can be developed with consideration for their values and interests. This approach ensures that AI choices made in the industry reflect the perspectives of those most affected by AI applications, fostering a more inclusive and respectful AI landscape.

  1. Developing Best Practices for Industry and Government

To navigate the complexities of AI use, the entertainment industry needs robust guidelines. The TRAILS Institute’s expertise in AI governance can contribute to the creation of best practices that benefit all stakeholders, ensuring the safe and informed adoption of AI innovations. By integrating these guidelines, the industry can address the concerns of actors and writers while promoting ethical AI practices that prioritize human factors.

  1. Research Thrusts for AI Regulation

The TRAILS Institute’s research program offers relevant thrusts that can directly address AI concerns in the entertainment industry:

  • Social Values: By increasing participation of actors and performers in AI development, the institute can ensure that AI systems’ outputs align with community values and interests.
  • Technical Design: Development of transparent and robust AI algorithms can alleviate fears of creative control and job security among actors and writers.
  • Socio-Technical Perceptions: Evaluating AI systems’ interpretability and explainability provides insights into AI-generated content and its implications on careers.
  • Governance: The analysis of governance regimes for data and technology can inform the development of platform and technology regulations to protect actors’ rights and interests.
  1. Education and Workforce Development in AI

The TRAILS Institute’s educational offerings can benefit the entertainment industry as well:

  • Workshops for Entertainment Professionals: Expanding the AI Summer Program for High School Students to include workshops or training sessions for entertainment professionals will engage them in AI discussions and decision-making processes.

Benefits of Collaboration

By collaborating with the TRAILS Institute, SAG-AFTRA and the entertainment industry can access valuable expertise and research that directly addresses their concerns about AI. The institute’s interdisciplinary approach combining AI research with social sciences and public policy will foster a more informed and equitable decision-making process. Furthermore, the institute’s commitment to inclusivity will empower historically marginalized groups, including actors and writers, in mainstream AI.


The TRAILS Institute, with its mission to expand access to foundational education and research thrusts in AI, presents a unique opportunity for the entertainment industry to address the current conflict during the SAG strike. By leveraging the institute’s expertise and collaborative efforts, the industry can embrace AI technologies that prioritize human values, foster inclusivity, and empower its stakeholders. This partnership will lead to a more balanced and empowering AI landscape, ensuring the industry’s continued growth and success while safeguarding the rights and interests of its talented members.

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