Writers Guild Committee Member John August Discloses A.I. Investment, Faces Scrutiny

Writers Guild Committee Member John August Discloses A.I. Investment, Faces Scrutiny

John August Araya Doheny/Getty Images Writers Guild of America negotiating committee member John August has publicly disclosed his company's investment in an artificial intelligence-powered tool and is facing some member blowback as the WGA is seeking to regulate the use of the technology in its current negotiations. The Big Fish and Aladdin screenwriter (and co-host of the popular Scriptnotes podcast) on Friday posted a blog entry his involvement with Sudowrite, an “AI writing partner” fueled by OpenAI's GPT-3 that purports to generate early drafts, perform revisions and offer synonyms and word suggestions for writers. In the post, August — who beyond his writing work helms the Quote-Unquote Apps company, which is behind the Weekend Read and Highland apps — says that he was first introduced to Sudowrite founder Amit Gupta in August 2021, when the company was focused on prose fiction. (As of Friday, the service was advertising to writers online that it would help them “write your or screenplay faster.”) He tried an early demo at that time, over a year before ChatGPT entered the public consciousness, and his company “made a small investment in Amit's company and started talking about ways actual writers might use this technology,” he writes. August adds in the post, “I'm listed as an advisor to Sudowrite, but that overstates my involvement. I haven't hyped it up or used it beyond those initial few weeks.” He says that, to his knowledge, his books and scripts haven't been used to train the technology and “neither I nor my company ever made a cent from our investment in Sudowrite, and never incorporated any of their stuff into the apps we sell.” As of early Friday, August was listed as one of several prominent writers endorsing the product, alongside novelist Hugh Howey and journalist Mark Frauenfelder. “It really does feel like magic,” August's quote read. By Friday afternoon, August's name and quote about the product were no longer visible on Sudowrite's website . The Writers Guild of America West has tweeted out August's post on his involvement with Sudowrite, stating, “Read how WGA […]

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