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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Thrilled by Oscar Win For Syria Documentary

February 27, 2017, 7:38 PM UTC

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings nearly teared up as he discussed the Oscar winning documentary White Helmets, which his company funded.

The film tells the story of rescue workers in war-torn Syria. At one point, Hastings recounted, the workers go through the rubble of a bombed building and discover a live baby girl.

“I think of that, and I complain about the line in my coffee shop,” Hasting said, his voice cracking, as he spoke at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. “It’s incredible. This is one of the great things about entertainment is just being able to connect people to stories and (places) where they haven’t been.”

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The Netflix-backed 40-minute film won the Oscar for best documentary short at Sunday night’s awards ceremony, marking the first Oscar win for any Netflix produced movie. “We’re so thrilled that the Oscars and the academy honored the film,” Hastings added.

Hasting also discussed how Netflix has expanded around the globe with its streaming video service, now available in more than 190 countries.

Though Netflix (NFLX) is in the same niche as other online video services like Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video and Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube Red, Hastings said he didn’t view the others as competitors. “They’re not really trying to kill us, they’re trying to serve consumers,” Hastings said, predicting that in 10 to 20 years all video would be watched via the Internet.

Pondering the future, Hasting also mused on the possibility that computers with artificial intelligence might someday overtake humanity. The comments echoed remarks by Masayoshi Son, founder of technology and telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank Group, earlier on Monday at the mobile conference.

But while Son was generally optimistic about the future of AI, Hastings offered a more mixed response.

“Over twenty to fifty years there’s a lot of debate around what happens to humanity,” Hastings said. “Do we get augmented, would the pure AI take humans on? So it’s tough to think about entertainment when I’m not sure if we’re going to be entertaining you or entertaining AIs.”