Netflix & Disney slammed for AI hiring spree amid strikes: “F*ck them”

Cameron Frew
The Joan is Awful episode from Black Mirror on Netflix

While actors and writers lobby against AI and call for stricter regulation, Netflix and Disney have listed jobs for artificial intelligence specialists worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The WGA began its strike on May 2, campaigning for fairer pay in the streaming era and demanding rules around the use of AI; if ChatGPT and other services are used willy-nilly to rewrite or produce original scripts, then screenwriters could become obsolete.

Just over two months later, SAG-AFTRA joined the picket line to fight for better pay and working conditions, as well as holding a united front against AI; it’s particularly eerie timing, given the recent Black Mirror episode about actors’ likenesses being used against their will.

Not only are the studios refusing to meet the guilds’ requests, but they’ve quietly listed several AI-related jobs with eye-watering salaries, and it’s quickly rubbed people the wrong way.

Netflix, Disney and other studios list AI jobs worth more than $100k

Netflix recently listed a job ad for a product manager for a “machine learning platform”, aka AI. “Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence is powering innovation, from personalization for members, to optimizing our payment processing and other revenue-focused initiatives,” it explains.

This job is offering between $300,000 – $900,000.

Disney is hiring for several AI-focused jobs, including a machine learning engineer in the company’s Streaming Advanced Research Division who’ll be responsible for “creating AI-enabled solutions for Disney+, Star+, and ESPN+.” Another job, as per The Hollywood Reporter, calls for an R&D Imagineer who’ll have 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 latter job is offering a base salary of up to $180,000.

Shortly after the actors’ strike was announced, Disney CEO Bob Iger said their “level of expectation… is just not realistic.” Currently, many members of SAG-AFTRA can’t afford to qualify for health insurance – this requires a yearly income of $26,470.

Netflix and Disney slammed for AI jobs amid strikes

The response from social media users has been emphatic. “It’s bad when Netflix does it, it’s bad when Disney does it. Stop trying to force this sh*t on everyone when nobody besides out-of-touch executives and sh*tty tech bros want AI anywhere near art and media. Pay your actors and writers,” one user wrote.

“Netflix, Disney, and Sony would rather spend close to a million dollars on an AI specialist than pay their writers and actors. That’s so f*cking messed up and shameful,” another tweeted. “Nah that’s actually crazy. All that for digital art but not even a fair portion for an actual human being,” a third wrote.

“F*ck AI, I hope the robots wipe us from the Earth for this kinda sh*t,” a fourth tweeted. “Literally Black Mirror,” a fifth wrote. “Probs deleting Netflix soon mostly cause 90% of their content sucks but also, f*ck them for this,” another tweeted.

You can find out more about why writers and actors are striking here.

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