Actors and writers have been raging at several major studios for seeking to hire artificial intelligence specialists in high-paying positions, which could potentially lead to the loss of jobs.
Since the Writers Guild of America (WGA) enacted its strike in May and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) enacted its strike in July, the debate has centered on the future of AI in the entertainment industry. While writers fear that AI could potentially be employed to write or rewrite scripts, actors also fear that the technology could severely diminish their use on camera; the studios, however, seem to have chosen to embrace the technology and are now actively seeking to employ technicians to help implement it.
“Job listings at almost every major entertainment company show that there is a veritable AI hiring spree going on as companies seek to understand how the technology can change their businesses,” reported The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
The studio Disney, particularly, seems immensely focused on AI, with a large volume of open positions focused on AI and machine learning, according to a THR review. Though a majority of the AI positions with Disney seem to be associated with the “Imagineering” team, which helps create the experience for Disneyland and Walt Disney World, it still shows that the entertainment industry has entered a new age with the advancement of AI. Per THR:
One job, for an R&D Imagineer focused on generative AI, is looking for someone who has the “ambition to push the limits of what AI tools can create and understand the difference between the voice of data and the voice of a designer, writer or artist.” The role will “collaborate with third party studios, universities, organizations, and developers to evaluate, adopt, and integrate the latest generative AI.” The job promises a base salary of up to $180,000 per year, with the possibility of bonuses or other compensation as well.
Another role, for a machine learning engineer in the Disney Streaming Advanced Research division (it’s “responsible for creating AI-enabled solutions for Disney+, Star+, and ESPN+,” per the listing) will use AI to “work on advanced personalization efforts involving digital avatars.”
Streaming giant Netflix has even gone so far as to offer an AI Product Manager up to $900,000 in compensation for their services.
“Our business is driven by Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, which fuels innovation in content creation and acquisition, personalization, payment processing, and other revenue-centric initiatives,” Netflix advertised.
Amazon, Apple, Sony, and other studios have listed an AI job position of some kind in their careers section.
Actors and writers immediately voiced their discontent on social media upon learning of this explosion in AI job offers.
“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 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.”
“They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator for the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, said.
Netflix is willing to pay an AI plagiarist more than they were willing to buy our screenplay. https://t.co/opZha0IEz5— Joe Russo (@joerussotweets) July 27, 2023
Netflix has listed an AI Product Manager role for $900K a year— Culture Crave 🍿 (@CultureCrave) July 25, 2023
87% of actors earn under $26K pic.twitter.com/KkvPr7A4Xr
Seriously, @netflix?— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) July 26, 2023
“The job listing indicates AI will be used to “create great content” and not just develop new algorithms…. The posting also alludes to integrating artificial intelligence in ‘all areas of the business.’” #WGAstrike https://t.co/pDBCZMjKoK
As Hollywood executives claim they can't afford to pay actors better wages, they're also spending lavishly on AI, with Netflix offering $900,000 for a single AI product manager.— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) July 25, 2023
87% of actors earn under $26k — the cutoff to qualify for health insurancehttps://t.co/TMZxOUXkKq
pleading poverty while recruiting VERY (more than i’ve ever made in a year BY FAR) well-paid generals for your soulless army of silicon plagiarists is NOT A GOOD LOOK. they are in this to break us, and they don’t care who sees. we MUST BREAK THEM BACK. https://t.co/NxNKtd7NAa— javier grillo-marxuach (@OKBJGM) July 26, 2023
Hollywood is on strike against AI.— Martin Crowley (@AIToolReport) July 27, 2023
Netflix's response? Posting a $900K AI job.
A stark comparison to the average actor's salary of <$26k.
Here's the story 🧵🧵🧵: pic.twitter.com/tuiDFYxPbR