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Five celebrity voices reimagined by AI as Tom Hanks sounds alarm

Actor Tom Hanks is warning his fans against believing a video that he said appears to show him endorsing a dental plan. The video was created using artificial intelligence (AI), Hanks alleged in a weekend post on Instagram.

“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it,” Hanks’ post said.

Newsweek reached out to Creative Artists Agency, Hanks’ management company, by email on Monday for comment and for additional information about the video.

Hanks’ post is reviving discussions about the impacts AI will have, and is having already, on content creation. AI emerged as a significant point of concern for Hollywood writers and actors who have been on strike for the last few months, with many worried that their jobs will eventually be replaced by new and developing AI technology. The writers’ strike is now over, but the actors’ strike isn’t. The actors union, SAG-AFTRA, resumed negotiations with major studios on Monday.

Hanks is one of many celebrities who found their voices and likeness recreated by AI. Some have endorsed the use of the technology; others have said they were surprised it had been used to create a new version of themselves. Below are five examples of celebrities whose voices have been reimagined by AI.

Bruce Willis

Actor Bruce Willis’ voice and likeness were used in a commercial released last year. Citing a statement on Willis’ website, The Telegraph reported that Willis sold the necessary permissions to use his image for these kinds of projects. In the case of this phone ad, Willis appeared to be filming a scene but never was on set, the British paper reported. Willis’ representatives later denied that he had sold these rights, according to Wired and Fortune.

Robin Williams

Zelda Williams, the daughter of the late actor-comedian Robin Williams, criticized recent efforts to replicate her father’s voice through AI. Zelda Williams began a statement posted on Instagram Stories that she is “not an impartial voice” in SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations over AI. Her statement, which has already disappeared from Instagram Stories, has been covered by several entertainment outlets.

“I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad,” her statement said. “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.”

Anthony Bourdain

The 2021 documentary Roadrunner about chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain presented another example of AI used to recreate the voice of a person after their death. At the time, filmmaker Morgan Neville told The New Yorker the decision to use an AI-generated voice was tied to an email he came across that had been written by Bourdain years earlier. Neville said he wanted to hear the email in Bourdain’s voice and used AI to make it happen for the film.

Taylor Swift

Popstar Taylor Swift is one of many famous individuals whose voice has been recreated using AI for the purposes of fan interaction. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that multiple AI websites created versions of Swift’s voice to give people a chance to chat with an AI version of her. Forever Voices, one company that made an AI Swift, promoted the creation with a post on Instagram that said, “AI Taylor Swift is waiting.” Swift’s team denied giving the company permission to use her voice, name or likeness, the paper reported.

Val Kilmer

In some instances, public figures have embraced AI to recreate their own voices. Such is the case for actor Val Kilmer, who began working with the software company Sonantic after his battle with throat cancer left him unable to speak. Kilmer provided old audio clips that featured him speaking so that an AI version of his voice could be created, according to IndieWire.

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