In the sixth season premiere of Netflix’s Black Mirror, a fictional streaming service named Streamberry uses artificial intelligence to deepfake an actor’s likeness onto a double’s body while creating an ongoing storyline crafted beat-by-beat after a woman’s life. Black Mirror is science fiction, but Netflix is getting dangerously close to it—the streaming service is currently hiring a new AI manager position at a salary of at least $300,000.
The official title of the position is Product Manager - Machine Learning Platform, and has a salary range listed for the California-based position with a minimum of $300,000 all the way up to $900,000. It would appear that Netflix doesn’t even have a clear idea of its plan for machine learning, as one of the key objectives of the position is to “define the strategic vision for [the machine learning platform].” Qualifications include experience working with a centralized machine learning platform, the ability to collaborate with and lead Netflix’s engineers, and written communication and strategic thinking skills (whatever that means).
“With more than 230 million members in over 190 countries, Netflix continues to shape the future of entertainment around the world,” the job listing reads. “Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence is powering innovation in all areas of the business. From helping us buy and create great content, helping members choose the right title for them through personalization, to optimizing our payment processing and other revenue-focused initiatives.”
Netflix is not exactly a stranger to artificial intelligence and machine learning, but this appears to be one of the first times that Netflix has put hundreds of thousands of dollars in someone’s pockets to wrangle it. In the past, Netflix has deployed an algorithm that would change the thumbnails of its programs between users based on those users viewing habits. At the same time, Netflix employs a rudimentary AI to recommend content, much the same way a platform like Spotify might. It’s not clear whether this Product Manager would be working with an AI on the backend, or in an application closer to production. Netflix did not immediately return our request for clarification.
AI in television and film is a hot-button topic right now, as both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) are concurrently on strike over the technology, among other demands. Both unions have been on strike for weeks—WGA went on strike on May 1 while SAG went on Strike on July 13—and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers thought they’d quell the flames of the protesting SAG members with an ill-conceived solution. The proposal would have studios paying a background actor a single day’s rate in exchange for scanning their face, which could be used by the studio however they please forever. WGA, meanwhile, is striking over the way studios plan to use chatbots as a way to cut back on human labor.
Meanwhile, an actor’s average annual salary is somewhere around $47,000 a year. It’s good to see where Netflix is putting its priorities.