Studios Load Up On AI Specialists As Actors, Writers Remain On Picket Line

OS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 14: Members of the Hollywood actors SAG-AFTRA union walk a picket line with screen writers outside of Paramount Studios on the first day of the actors’ strike which piles on top of the Hollywood writers WGA union strike, now in the 11th week, on July 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

Studios appear to be dealing with the uncertainty of the future of TV/movies by advertising jobs for Artificial Intelligence specialists as actors and writers remain on the picket line amid the joint strike that’s shut down Hollywood.

One of the sticking points that lead The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) to join the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike in July was the studios response to artists concerns to institute “protections against the existential threat AI poses to their careers,” the Hollywood Reporter reported. While writers worry that studios’ use of things like ChatGPT — to write or rewrite scripts — will take away jobs from producers, writers and more.

Amid this fear, places like Disney and Netflix have announced they are hiring for AI jobs. Disney has a half-dozen positions, some with its “Imagineering” team that’s focused on AI, according to a review of open positions by THR.

One job is described as an Imagineer 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,” with a base salary of up to $180,000 per year, with the possibility of bonuses or other compensation as well, the outlet wrote.

Another open position with Disney is for its Streaming Advanced Research division which is “responsible for creating AI-enabled solutions for Disney+, Star+, and ESPN+.” The description also read that the person will use AI to “work on advanced personalization efforts involving digital avatars.”

Netflix is reportedly willing to shell out $900,000-per-year for an AI product manager, while Sony hopes to hire an AI “Ethics” engineer for $160,000.

“We believe in researching and developing AI techniques that empower the imagination and creativity of artists, makers and creators around the world,” the Sony listing read. “Our aim is to advance AI so that it augments — and works in harmony with — humans to benefit society.”

Earlier this week, “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston went viral after he gave a fiery speech during the strike declaring actor’s jobs will not be taken away and “given to robots.”

“We’ve got a message for Mr. Iger [Disney CEO Bob Iger]: I know, sir, that you look at things through a different lens,” Cranston said. “We don’t expect you to understand who we are. But we ask you to hear us, and beyond that to listen to us when we tell you we will not be having our jobs taken away and given to robots.”

Related: Actors Go On Strike. Here’s What That Means For Your Shows And Movies

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