Fall 2018

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Page 12 of 117 | Fall 2018 | SAG-AFTRA 11 A Letter from the Executive Vice President R E B E C C A D A M O N "We are exploring ways to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to track content and ensure our members are being paid fairly." Dear Member, T he world is at a crossroads in so many ways, and nowhere is that more apparent than in how we embrace technology. Portable devices have changed the way we communicate, consume media and drive around town. Other evolving technologies, from virtual reality to holograms, have the potential to create huge impacts in their own right on the way we make a living. While the world can sometimes look like a scary place, it's worth putting this all in perspective. I am reminded of a quote from the TV reboot of Battlestar Galactica, "All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again." Given the rapid pace of technology, we often think this is the first time our industry has faced such seismic changes, but that simply isn't the case. From silent pictures to "talkies," from cable TV to VCRs, the industry has had to adapt, and each time it did, opportunity grew exponentially. That's why I'm looking forward to what the future brings with a sense of optimism. Of course there are potential downsides to technology when it's misused. It has made possible "deepfake" porn that defames our members, and makes it easier to impersonate others, both through audio and video. But at the same time, when used ethically, technology provides new outlets for creativity. Some of the same tools that can be used for nefarious ends can also be used by young producers to push the boundaries of creativity and imagination. SAG-AFTRA is on the forefront of this change, led by President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White. Along with Danny Inukai, who was recently named chief technology and innovation officer, we are exploring ways to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to track content and ensure our members are being paid fairly. President Carteris and I recently visited Carnegie Mellon University on a tech tour to explore innovation and the future impact of technology on the work we do, and what we saw fascinated us. Researchers showed us robots that were trained to perform complex tasks and software that could anticipate users' needs. We were given a demonstration of educational software that's helping teach children in Tanzania. Due to a teacher shortage, the children learn their lessons from tablet computers, and the software gauges the child's reaction each time new information is presented. Programmed to interpret facial expressions, the lesson slows down or adjusts if the child is starting to become frustrated, and speeds up when there's a positive reaction. This kind of technology could conceivably be used to create new entertainment experiences, changing the outcome of narratives based on the user's preference. It could be in video games, or film or mediums we haven't invented yet. When used successfully, it will enhance, rather than minimize the human element, because that's what all great, enduring art does. And that means the opportunities for members are as limitless as creativity itself. No matter where the future takes us, our principles will always remain the same: Fair wages, safe working conditions and a pension. Our bedrock strength lies in the power of the membership standing together. In closing, I want to specifically thank everyone who is showing their support for the union's strike against BBH. Whether it's in person or on social media, you truly do make a difference. Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season. Onward together, Rebecca Damon

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