87% of Hollywood actors earn less than $26,000 a year – unsurprisingly, they’re still striking. But Netflix executives would rather spend – lavishly – on artificial intelligence programs.
Hollywood actors – and writers – continue to strike and call for higher pay and better working conditions. In addition to more traditional demands, the strikers want large studios and streaming services to restrict or at least carefully regulate the use of AI.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA), for example, seeks a commitment from studios not to use AI as source material, and not to use the material created by its members to train large language models.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are worried over alleged plans to replace them with digital replicas created, once again, with the help of AI technology.
But Netflix, the biggest streaming platform in the world, is seemingly moving forward with huge investments in AI and embracing the technology with open arms. As revealed by The Intercept, in one case, Netflix is offering up to $900,000 for a single AI product manager.
Now, the job description itself doesn’t say that actors or writers are to be replaced by Netflix’s AI systems. The company explains that its Machine Learning Platform needs a roadmap and a strategic plan, so a manager is needed.
But the research section on Netflix’s website describes the aforementioned platform as a tool used for content creation – not only recommendations.
“Historically, personalization has been the most well-known area where machine learning powers our recommendation algorithms. We’re also using machine learning to help shape our catalog of movies and TV shows by learning characteristics that make content successful,” Netflix says.
“We use it to optimize the production of original movies and TV shows in Netflix’s rapidly growing studio.”
Actors aren’t happy. Rob Delaney, the star of the TV show Catastrophe who’s known for his political activism, told The Intercept: “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.”
“Having been poor and rich in this business, I can assure you there’s enough money to go around. It’s just about priorities,” added Delaney.
Disney, for one, is also seemingly keen to have options. The corporation, just like Netflix, has listed job openings for AI-related positions and is, for instance, looking for a senior AI engineer to “drive innovation” across the firm’s properties.
The entertainment industry, in other words, is keen to make massive investments in AI, especially generative AI. If AI models can be trained to replace humans like actors or writers, their wages will be much smaller indeed.