Netflix exec behind Arrested Development and House of Cards says creatives using AI will take away their jobs

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos doesn’t think AI will ever replace the work of Hollywood’s best creative minds. But he does believe that using AI could help them beat the competition.

In an interview with New York Times Sarandos said the use of AI will become a new industry standard and those in the film business who are not up to date with the technology will be left behind.

“AI is not going to take your job,” Sarandos told the Times in an interview published Saturday. “The person who uses AI well could take your job.”

It’s a phrase frequently repeated by executives and professional advisors throughout the business world. The idea is that while AI tools like ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini can’t completely replace a person, they can help those who know how to use them work more efficiently than those who don’t. Basically, being an AI expert will become a skill in itself.

Sarandos’ point was that the same would apply to the entertainment industry. Other big-name executives, such as legendary mogul Barry Diller, also downplayed the effects of AI in replacing creatives, calling it “overhyped.” In Hollywood, generative AI featured prominently during the writers and actors strikes that shook the industry last summer.

The debate over the use of technology became an almost existential question for some active writers and actors. Writers feared that much of their work would be handed over to an AI that would produce acceptable scripts. While actors feared that their portraits would be scanned by AI and then used in perpetuity by studios. In the end, the unions won, curbing the use of AI and ensuring that it could not be used as a credited writer or as a means to impersonate actors during filming.

Sarandos said AI was just the latest in a long line of technological innovations that changed business models in the film business. “I think AI is a natural kind of advancement of things that are happening in the creative space today anyway,” he said.

He went on to cite examples such as computer-generated animation and the rise of the home video market with VHS and DVD sales, as examples that the industry fought and worried about before adopting.

“Every advancement in entertainment technology has been fought against and ultimately resulted in growing the business,” Sarandos said. “I don’t know if this would be different.”

That said, Sarandos doesn’t believe AI can replace the best screenwriter or actor. “I have more faith in humans than that,” he said. “I really believe it. “I don’t think an AI program is going to write a better script than a great writer, nor is it going to replace great acting.”

That’s not to say that some companies and industries aren’t already facing significant disruptions to their workforces. According to Pew Research, about a fifth of American workers hold jobs that are especially likely to be affected by AI, such as certain roles in IT departments or positions that require extensive data analysis. Certain types of content creation jobs also fall into the category of jobs likely to be replaced by ChatGPT. But they would probably be the most routine types of work in those fields, like adding news articles or rewriting the umpteenth draft of a movie script.

That’s not to say that some companies haven’t already started considering ways to use AI to replace certain workers. In certain circles, commentators have begun to speculate that some technology companies are already cutting their workforces as a result of AI. As technology has proliferated, they have gradually reduced their ranks or decided not to fill vacant positions.

All the tensions between the entertainment industry and AI have not gone unnoticed in Washington DC. Lawmakers are said to be considering a bill specifically aimed at addressing the use of AI in film and music that could be introduced as early as June.

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