Netflix CEO Stands Against AI, Supports Filmmakers Being Irreplaceable

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

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Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has spoken out against AI as a replacement for human filmmakers in a surprising show of solidarity between a CEO and creatives. While he isn’t entirely against using AI as a tool in filmmaking he does seem to be drawing a line in the sand that it can’t replace human talent. This is a reassuring position given how much conflict there was during the dule writers and actors strikes last year. 

Ted Sarandos On Netflix AI

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Sarandos talked about the issue on Literally! With Rob Lowe, which Deadline reported on after receiving an excerpt of the conversation.

The two discussed the controversy around AI in film, starting by discussing the role it played in last year’s strikes as a central point of contention between the striking guilds and the AMPTP. In addition to a broader discussion, he discussed the possibilities for using AI on Netflix on the user’s side. 

No Shortcut For The Human Experience

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His position on AI can best be summed up with the quote, “…there is no shortcut for the human experience.” The Netflix CEO says that AI will inevitably be used as a tool for various parts of filmmaking and that those who find ways to use it effectively will find success in the future, but doesn’t think AI can replicate the human authenticity that makes films great.

His view is that AI should be a supplemental tool for human creators instead of trying to replace writers, directors, or other creatives. 

Netflix Built-In AI

While his position on replacing creatives with AI is clear, Sarandos seems more optimistic about how Netflix users could use it for themselves as part of the streaming service.

He speculates that users could interact with built-in AI to create their own custom content by combining features of various movies in the Netflix library to create custom content. While he’s less opposed to that idea, he doesn’t think it will be able to replace the audience’s desire for crafted, human-made films. 

AI Vs. Social Media?

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One of the most interesting points Sarandos makes about AI is comparing it to concerns that the rise of social media would kill traditional media and storytelling.

He compares the current concerns about AI to those worries, claiming that the desire for humans to share stories with other humans is so innate that new technology can’t kill that desire or the way those stories are shared.

It’s an interesting parallel and while the two phenomena have some clear differences his point does have some weight. 

Nuanced And Pro-Creative

Some creatives will undoubtedly be upset about Sarandos giving some support to Netflix implementing AI, but his commitment to not replacing human creatives is a good sign.

It’s hard to say how the new technology will impact filmmaking, and there’s an argument to be made that it shouldn’t be used at all.

Compared to many other executives in the film industry, Sarandos offers a position that is surprisingly nuanced and pro-creative.

AI Use In Filmmaking

The topic of AI use in filmmaking is sure to remain a hot-button issue for the next several years.

In particular, it is already a point of discussion as the IATSE and Hollywood Basic Crats are negotiating terms with the AMPTP, setting the stage for another potential Hollywood strike this summer.

If that happens the topic of AI will be back at the forefront of the news, making comments of CEOs like Ted Sarandos all the more important.

SOURCE: Deadline