Sean Penn mocks AI’s ‘human profanity’ amid WGA attack

Image credit: Jengod / CC from 4.0

Sean Penn has written a mockery of the proliferation of AI and made comments expressing his solidarity with the striking writers at the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

“The industry has been turning writers, actors and directors upside down for a very long time,” Penn said during a press conference on his latest film, Black Flies. “My full support goes to the Authors’ Guild. Many new concepts are being discussed, including the use of AI. And it just strikes me as human obscenity that there’s been a backlash,” he says diversity event coverage of the Cannes Film Festival.

Film and TV screenwriters went on strike earlier this month. The WGA seeks better pay, new contracts for the streaming age, and safeguards against the use of AI-generated scripted shows.

Sean Penn’s comments on AI echo those of Sting, who believes AI is a battle every creative will have to fight “for years to come.” “The building blocks of music belong to us, the people,” Sting told the BBC in an interview. “The tools are useful, but we need to push them,” the singer says of AI. “I don’t think we can let the machines just take control. We have to be careful.”

“I get bored instantly when I see a computer-generated image,” Sting continues during this discussion, speaking about the merits of AI-generated music. “I imagine I will feel the same when it comes to AI making music. Maybe it works for electronic dance music. But with songs that express emotions, I don’t think that will affect me.”

Sting is right here; Generative AI for music is still in its infancy as experiments emerge. Google’s own MusicLM is very good at creating EDM music, but struggles with almost every other genre.