Media Giants Eye AI Talent Amidst Employee Strikes, Offering Hefty Compensation

NNicholas August 23, 2023 8:47 PM

As writers and actors strike over industry plans for AI, six major entertainment companies are advertising for AI specialists. The positions offer high salaries, with some even reaching up to $1 million, indicating a shift in resource allocation within the industry.

Studios turn to AI amid strikes

While actors and writers are on strike, protesting against the industry's AI plans among other issues, film and television studios are on a hiring spree. Companies like Disney, Netflix, Sony, and NBCUniversal are advertising for at least 26 positions related to AI, according to a search of online job listings. The potential salaries for these positions are hefty, with some surpassing $200,000 a year. This shift in recruitment suggests that production companies are allocating significant resources towards AI development, even amidst ongoing labor disputes.

AI roles in content creation

The AI-related job openings differ in their relation to content creation, a significant concern in discussions about AI's impact on creative professionals' livelihood. Some positions focus on the back end of certain products, like utilizing AI to personalize search results. In contrast, other positions are more directly involved in content generation or supporting those who generate content. These job openings suggest that media companies are not just looking for immediate alternatives for striking workers, but rather building a long-term strategy around AI.

Job ads for AI positions often mention building an AI platform or innovation lab, indicating that these companies are planning for the long term. While AI's use for content generation is a significant concern for striking workers, these ads suggest that companies are not only seeking immediate solutions to the labor crisis but also investing in future-oriented AI technology. Such investments, coupled with the high salaries offered, show the importance these companies place on the role of AI within the industry.

Concerns over AI 'replacing' human actors

Union leaders express concerns about AI-generated digital actors, which they see as a potential threat to their members' job security. There are already claims in lawsuits that tech companies are using actors' words or likeness to train AI replacements. Such fears are echoed by industry figures like Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), who has called AI “poison.” These concerns underline the tension between technological advancement and the preservation of human roles within the industry.

Generative AI, which involves creating content, has gained significant traction in the past year, thanks to the success of applications like image generators and chatbots. Some believe that this form of AI is just starting to shape the entertainment industry and how people spend their leisure time. For example, the broadcasting company Sinclair is looking for a director of AI for its innovation lab, with the role's responsibilities being focused on developing and implementing generative AI solutions. This trend points to a future where AI plays a more central role in content creation.

Media giants offer high salaries for AI roles

Leading entertainment companies are not shying away from investing heavily in AI. Netflix, for instance, has advertised for 18 positions related to AI or machine learning, with one paying as much as $1 million for developing video games based on recent AI advances. Similarly, Disney, Sony, and NBCUniversal have also posted high-paying AI roles, indicating their willingness to offer lucrative compensations to attract top AI talent. These job listings underscore the high value these media giants are placing on AI expertise.

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