Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, said that in a few decades time, the company’s job might involve entertaining artificial intelligence more than humans.
Hastings made the remark as he neared the end of his talk at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the majority of his keynote speech was geared towards Netflix’s future in the shifting media world. “Over twenty to fifty years, you get into some serious debate over humans,” Hastings said. “I don’t know if you can really talk about entertaining at that point. I’m not sure if in twenty to fifty years we are going to be entertaining you, or entertaining A.I.s.”
Hastings could have been referring to conscious, robotic beings that would enjoy watching movies. He may, however, have been referencing an evolution of the algorithms that the streaming service currently implements to ensure greater customer satisfaction with specific targeting of genres and content.
Netflix has been constantly upgrading their systems, so much that specialists at NASA have been interested in their work. Rather than calculating trips to Mars, Netflix uses their technological know-how to help users find the perfect movie in their film library. The film that might provide the perfect night-in for one user may bore another to tears; smarter algorithms are the solution to this problem.
Half a century down the line, as the technology evolves further, it could then be plausible to ask the question as to who is really being entertained: is it the customer, or their custom AI algorithm? Graham Templeton writing in Inverse posited whether at that point the system is then really “tailoring [the] entertainment to the person, or to an increasingly disconnected, A.I.-born statistical metaphor that is supposed to represent them?”
In the end, the question remained unanswered by Hastings, although he made sure to highlight that whatever the future of AI may hold, Netflix wouldn’t be stopped from heading in that direction.