We all know one of the biggest issues both of the striking guilds, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, have with AMPTP’s offer for a new contract is a lack of protection against and regulation of AI. But now it seems the studios are doubling down on their investment in AI.
The Intercept has reported that Netflix has posted a new Product Manager role for their AI Machine Learning Program — and it pays a whopping $900K.
According to the job description, the Product Manager position will focus on “increasing the leverage of our Machine Learning Platform.” The MLP is Netflix’s in-house AI program, which has traditionally been used to power the algorithmic recommendations of the company’s streaming service. According to a Netflix’s research page, the company is now making a larger effort to use the program to “optimize” film and TV production, although how they plan to do so is kept somewhat vague.
“Historically, personalization has been the most well-known area, where machine learning powers our recommendation algorithms,” Netflix’s description of the MLP reads. “We’re also using machine learning to help shape our catalog of movies and TV shows by learning characteristics that make content successful. We use it to optimize the production of original movies and TV shows in Netflix’s rapidly growing studio.”
Netflix’s expansion into AI for content creation comes not just in the middle of a labor dispute partly based around fighting exploitative use of the technology, but after the company satirized the use of AI in TV itself. The recent Season 6 of “Black Mirror,” one of Netflix’s most popular shows, started with an episode where a streamer, deliberately made to resemble Netflix, used AI technology to use the digital likeness of Salma Hayek against her will.
“So $900k/yr per soldier in their godless AI army when that amount of earnings could qualify thirty-five actors and their families for SAG-AFTRA health insurance is just ghoulish,” actor Rob Delaney, who starred in the “Black Mirror” episode, told The Intercept. “Having been poor and rich in this business, I can assure you there’s enough money to go around; it’s just about priorities.” It’s also hiring a $650K AI technical director role for its gaming division.
Netflix isn’t the only studio in Tinseltown to begin investing more into using AI to generate content. According to the Intercept, Disney is also hiring for a senior AI engineer to “drive innovation across our cinematic pipelines and theatrical experiences.” (And they already have job listings up for roles in the Imagineering division of Disney Parks.)
We’ve been building to this moment for years: In 2020, IndieWire reported how Warner Bros. cut a deal to use the AI program Cinelytic in order to help with choices regarding theatrical or streaming distribution. What will be next?