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Netflix Posts AI Job Listing, Which Is Met With Concern

In what is most likely a terribly timed job posting, Netflix is searching for talent in the technology field to develop artificial intelligence-based algorithms. This does not sound too horrific when taken at face value. However, the news breaking during a protracted labor dispute while rumors of artificial intelligence being used to potentially write scripts are precisely what drives people to speculate about their motivations for having such positions in the first place. Netflix is perhaps first and foremost a tech company that happens to be in the business of creating films and TV shows, as SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher alluded to while delivering a speech about the reasons for the writers’ and actors’ united strike earlier in July: “The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. This is a moment of history that is a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business, who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family.”


At first glance, it would appear that Ms. Drescher’s words are ringing true. However, the truth is probably less insidious than it appears. Netflix, like every other technology company on the planet, is investing heavily in artificial intelligence and this shows up in the job listing’s reported salary of $900,000. What does make the company look bad from an optics standpoint is offering this kind of salary while the entertainment industry in Hollywood is paying some employees as little as 13 cents in residual income because of the way streaming numbers currently translate to payments. That, most assuredly, deserves to be called out because it is a glaring reminder of the income inequality that exists broadly in the United States, driven in large part by the technology industry’s acceleration of income inequality according to a 2019 article by Forbes.


As The Intercept first reported, there are, however, those who are alarmed that this foray into artificial intelligence is much more complicated than the job posting indicates. Ben Zhao, professor of computer science at the University of Chicago tells the outlet “It’s almost a guarantee that the use of this ‘research,’ when it gets commercialized, will be to build digital actors that replace humans,” Zhao also added a warning that the research side of their posting is largely a “bait and switch” tactic essentially agreeing with those who are currently worried about the rise in large language models’ usage of data scraped from the internet without any real protections for the data rights of the owners of that data. For their part, the studios seem conflicted about how to move forward with artificial intelligence even though they know it’s going to be an important part of their future, it does not come without its own set of risks according to Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO in a discussion with Disney investors: “ But it’s also clear that AI is going to be highly disruptive, and it could be extremely difficult to manage, particularly from an IP management perspective.”