Not Everyone Is Happy With AI And The Rise Of Deep Fakes
Zelda Williams, the daughter of the iconic comedian and actor Robin Williams, has taken a vocal stand against the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to recreate her father’s voice and likeness without his consent. Through an Instagram story on October 2, 2023, she passionately expressed her personal and professional concerns regarding the ethical quandaries posed by AI-driven recreations of deceased actors.
We wrote about this recently where some celebrities want to create their very own deepfakes. Which has proven to be a quite controversial topic, even Whoopi Goldberg was not a fan of her image being used.
Zelda Williams’ Personal and Professional Quandaries
In her heartfelt statement, Zelda Williams expressed her concerns, extending far beyond her own sentiments. She remarked, “I’ve already heard AI used to get his ‘voice’ to say whatever people want, and while I find it personally disturbing, the ramifications go far beyond my own feelings.” Her concern strongly emphasized the importance of living actors having the opportunity to contribute their choices, efforts, and time to character creation, voicing animated characters, and the pursuit of performance, emphasizing the profoundly human aspect of the art. Hence why we have recently seen a lot of strikes within the creative industry.
Zelda Williams, a director and producer herself, revealed that she had been witnessing the ongoing efforts of numerous individuals aiming to train AI models to create or replicate actors who could not provide consent, much like her father. Her words conveyed a stark reality: “This isn’t theoretical, it is very very real.” In her view, these AI recreations were at best a subpar imitation of exceptional individuals and at worst, “a horrendous Frankensteinian monster,” constructed from the worst facets of the entertainment industry instead of embodying its intended spirit.
We have already seen how quickly AI can clone voices, so it’s no surprise people are trying to create a business out of this. The worrying thing is that some people want to bring the dead back to life.
The Ongoing Struggle of SAG-AFTRA
Zelda Williams’ fervent statement coincides with the ongoing strike led by SAG-AFTRA, the renowned union representing actors and performers within the film and television industries. At the heart of this strike lies a pivotal issue—the utilization of AI and digital doubles in the realm of media and entertainment. These digital entities hold the potential to supplant or exploit the artistic contributions of human actors.
SAG-AFTRA has unequivocally demanded that actors be granted the right to provide consent and actively engage in negotiations concerning the usage of their digital likenesses and voices. The union has also called for transparency and accountability from the producers and studios employing AI and digital duplicates.
Numerous actors have come forth, recounting instances where their likenesses and voices have been scanned and employed in AI programs without their knowledge or consent. Moreover, there is a looming fear that these images and scans could be misused to train AI algorithms, resulting in fully-fledged replicas bearing their likeness.
In Solidarity: Other Celebrities’ Voices
Zelda Williams isn’t the sole celebrity who has raised their voice against the utilization of AI recreations. Tom Hanks, a beloved figure in the industry, recently alerted his fans to an AI version of himself promoting a dental plan. He stressed that this AI entity did not represent him and called upon his supporters to back SAG-AFTRA’s strike.
Robin Williams, one of the most cherished and revered comedians and actors of his era, left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. He graced the silver screen in unforgettable movies such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Aladdin,” “Jumanji,” and many more. His tragic passing in 2014 at the age of 63 following a battle with Lewy body dementia sent shockwaves throughout the world. His profound impact on the entertainment industry and the hearts of millions makes Zelda Williams’ defense of her father’s legacy all the more poignant.