Ted Sarandos Says AI Cannot Replace Filmmakers: “There Is No Shortcut For The Human Experience” – Deadline

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EXCLUSIVE: Netflix chief Ted Sarandos has weighed in on artificial intelligence’s place in Hollywood.

Sarandos discussed the contentious topic with Rob Lowe on an upcoming episode of the actor’s SiriusXM podcast Literally! with Rob Lowe. Deadline has an exclusive excerpt from the interview, where Sarandos called AI a “‘creators’ tool, not a ‘creative’ tool.”

Lowe points out that, after last year’s dual writers and actors strikes where AI was a big sticking point, the conversation is far from over, to which Sarandos replies, “Probably rightfully so.”

“I think that the creators who learn to use these tools better than everyone else are gonna win…not companies who create, but people who create,” he said, stressing that he doesn’t think AI will replace human filmmakers, because “it’s feasible that AI can replicate or imitate those things, but there’s something about the authenticity and the reality of human experience that people see, and they can also see when it’s inauthentic.”

Using Netflix’s Squid Game as an example, Sarandos explained that the authenticity and specificity of the Korean show is what led it to be a global hit. The series is still the streamer’s most-watched of all time. That, Sarandos argues, is not something that AI will be able to replicate.

“I think that people will try to use AI to do shortcuts for the human experience, and the truth is, there is no shortcut for the human experience,” he added. “It would not be good for the business to have movies and films spit out of an AI. The relationship with that programming, with those stories, will not be intense, will not be personal, will not make you cry at night.”

However, Sarandos does see a version of Netflix where users may be able to use AI on the platform to generate their own content. In his question, Lowe uses the example of marrying two movies together to create an entirely new one, or even an entirely new idea that doesn’t yet exist.

He did argue that, while this tool may be available, viewers may be hesitant to opt for this over a story crafted by human creatives.

“I mean, in the history of humankind, we tell each other stories and there’s something very innate about it. To me, it’s like, I worried for a while at the beginning of social media creation,” he explained. “Will the next generation of kids watch things that they’re not in? Must they be in the next movie or they won’t watch it? I think, actually, there is a role, a very important human role for storytelling, and being a passive listener of a story.”

Though it seems like everyone is talking about AI at this point, Sarandos and many of his studio CEO counterparts have remained fairly quiet on the subject thus far, especially as it became one of the chief concerns of the Hollywood guilds.

AI became a hot topic in Hollywood last year, when both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA found themselves at odds with the studios on the topic. The unions both insisted on provisions in their film and TV contracts to protect members against the use of AI, which was one of several road blocks that would eventually prompt two simultaneous 100+ day strikes.

Both guilds eventually achieved language on AI in their contracts, but it remains at the forefront of Hollywood’s mind as IATSE and the Hollywood Basic Crafts start their own negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). These unions have not released specific patterns of demands, though IATSE President Matthew Loeb previously said AI would be “crucial” to the discussions.

Those negotiations are ongoing and will likely extend into the summer, as those contracts don’t expire until July 31.

The full episode of Literally! with Rob Lowe with Saranados premieres tomorrow.

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