AI a minuscule part of Hollywood scripts so far: this could change

Contrary to fears that artificial intelligence could replace writers in the TV and film industry, a new study shows these concerns are exaggerated – at least for now.

For the study, AI content detection company Originality.AI analyzed over 4,000 US TV show episodes aired from 2020 to 2023. The shows included daytime shows, primetime TV pilots, and a popular late-night comedy skit show.

The findings are consistent, the firm said in a report – Hollywood scripts are not being produced by AI text-generators or other tools based on large language models. Nearly 100% of the content in Hollywood scripts remains crafted by human writers.

Even among the most formulaic of scripts, daytime soap operas, the percentage of suspected AI-generated content only showed a small uptick above the margin of a false positive, Jonathan Gillham, author of the study and founder of Originality.AI, said.

The Writers Guild of America recently ended its five-month-long strike with a new contract, outlining actual limitations on how AI can be used in writers’ rooms and slamming the doors of the industry to such tools for now.

But maybe the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing the big studios and streamers, was inclined to insert these AI-related provisions into the agreement because generative AI is, as of today, not a thing in Hollywood.

There are possible signs of concern, though. Originality.AI’s study did actually unveil a slightly worrying trend in daytime soap operas.

In 2020, only 1.3% of scripts analyzed were suspected of having AI-generated content. This percentage aligns with the false positive rate (1.9%) of Originality.AI's detection software. However, the study shows a gradual increase in the percentage of scripts suspected to contain AI-generated content, peaking at 4.5% in 2023.

The study shows a gradual increase in the percentage of daytime soap scripts suspected to contain AI-generated content. Courtesy of Originality.AI.

“This is still a relatively small number, and given the detector's imperfect accuracy, we would caution against drawing significant conclusions from this increase. However, it shows it is definitely worth continuing to monitor,” said Gillham.

Even if the study is optimistic about human scriptwriting overall, Originality.AI’s founder is still worried about the future of creating content inside the ever more profit-hungry studios.

“Writers are paid for ideas and for their script. What happens when the AI generates the idea? We know what the studios want – more profit. But if an AI is writing the scripts, where will this leave the writers?” asked Gillham.

Yes, in mid-August, DC District Court Judge Beryl Howell ruled that AI-generated content is not protected by copyright laws and that human beings are an “essential part of a valid copyright claim.”

“But it doesn’t take an army of lawyers to realize that by hiring a writer who has been forced to accept a ‘co-writing’ credit, that ruling can be easily bypassed,” Gillham pointed out.

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