AI deepfakes fuel the flames of debate among Hollywood stars

Artificial Intelligence's growing capacity to generate realistic content, such as deep fakes, is stirring debate in Hollywood over actor compensation and content creation.
Daniel Lehewych
The Hollywood Banner

The use of artificial intelligence in creating realistic videos has become a contentious issue within Hollywood. Famed director Wes Anderson appears to be part of a trend, as fake movie trailers bearing his distinctive style have popped up on YouTube, featuring significant stars like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. But Anderson or his stars didn't craft these trailers, and they were generated by AI, stirring debate among actors, writers, and studios.

AI's ability to produce this level of realistic content has created a division in Hollywood. While some see potential in the technology's capacity for content creation, others are concerned about how it might be used. The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is one group voicing concerns. The actors union is preparing to negotiate labor contracts with studios, and the use of AI is a top issue.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union's chief negotiator, has spoken out about maintaining control over actors' "digital doubles" and ensuring fair compensation when their personas are used. As quoted in Reuters, "The performer's name, likeness, voice, persona - those are the performer's stock and trade," Crabtree-Ireland says, stressing that it's unfair for companies to profit off them without proper compensation.

AI's Hollywood Impact

High-profile actors like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves have fallen victim to unauthorized deep fakes and hyper-realistic AI-generated videos. These instances have fueled a growing concern among actors about the unregulated use of AI.

The use of generative AI has seen a global surge since the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI. As a result, regulators in the U.S. and Europe are calling for protective measures to prevent misuse, including misinformation, bias, violation of copyright, and privacy invasion.

Despite the controversies, some actors have consented to specific uses of AI. For example, in the upcoming "Indiana Jones" movie, 80-year-old Harrison Ford will appear 40 years younger, thanks to AI. He lauds the technology, as does James Earl Jones, who agreed to allow AI to replicate his iconic Darth Vader voice.

Debate Over Deepfakes

The issue remains contentious, though. SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America want safeguards before AI becomes more widespread in the industry. Former "Family Ties" actor and computer science graduate Justine Bateman warns against a future filled with rehashed entertainment from the past due to AI.

As SAG-AFTRA gears up for negotiations with studios, the outcome of these talks could significantly impact the future of AI in Hollywood. The union's leaders are even asking members to authorize a potential strike if agreements can't be reached, indicating the seriousness of the issue. As Bateman said, "I don't want to live in that world... If we're all using AI, you'll never see anything like that."

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