Leading Streamer Netflix has added more fuel to the fire in the actors and writers’ union strike by advertising for an AI product manager with a salary up to $900,000. 

Could Have Paid For Actors 

With US actors and writers who are members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) having been on strike for weeks, partly to protect their jobs from AI, the mega-salary job ad has been met with some criticism. For example, SAG-AFTRA has argued that 87 per cent of its membership only earn less than $26,000 a year, and some union members have added that the eye-watering $300,000 to $900,000 dollars for one AI job could have paid and supported 35 actors and their families instead. 

The Reasons For The Strike 

Some of the main reasons for the dual strike of actors and writers include: 

  • Worries that background performers could be scanned and paid one day’s pay, while their scanned image is then owned by film companies who can use the person’s image or likeness (reproduced with AI) for unlimited projects in the future without the performer’s consent and without compensation.  
  • The need for wage increases. 
  • Streaming service like Prime, Netflix, and Disney not paying enough in “residuals” (the royalties earned from repeat broadcasts of films or TV shows). 
  • Concerns that AI will be used to write first drafts of scripts and screenwriters will only be hired at a lower rate to bring them up to scratch. 

The Job 

The $300,000 to $900,000 salary Machine Learning Platform Manager Netflix job is in their Los Gatos office or can be remotely based on the West Coast. The advert specifies that the right candidate will be someone with “a technical background in engineering and/or machine learning”. Netflix says that “Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence is powering innovation” with the “Machine Learning Platform (MLP)” providing “the foundation for all of this innovation” with the new Product Management role being used to “increase the leverage of our Machine Learning Platform”. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

With actors (and writers) out on strike to essentially stop AI from replacing them and to get more residuals from streaming services. Netflix posting a high salary AI job offer, therefore, is felt by many actors to be a double kick in the teeth.

The use of AI in film and TV is already here but, at a time when the union needs to negotiate its terms between actors and the studios, the studios are focusing on how they plan to expand their use of AI. Understandably, the fears of actors about AI have been brought to a head. For example, with writer, actor and comedian Rob Delaney describing the AI job advert as “ghoulish” and actor Brian Cox being widely quoted as saying “the worst aspect is the whole idea of AI and what AI can do to us”, it’s clear that there’s still some way to go before any kind of agreement can be reached between the studios and the unions and the major disruption to the industry can be stopped.

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