Robin Williams was known for his oversized comedy and hilarious characters. Since the actor's passing in 2014, he has been a dearly missed presence in Hollywood. But his daughter, Zelda Williams, has come out and criticized the use of AI technology to recreate actors' likenesses. Here's what went down.
Williams, an actress and director, took to her Instagram stories to share her viewpoint on the subject matter. Things got personal with Williams. "I am not an impartial voice in SAG's fight against AI. I've witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad. This isn't theoretical, it is very very real." The use of AI to recreate or create actors has become a hot-button issue in Hollywood and is a central matter in the ongoing actors' strike. Williams continued, "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. Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their voices, to voice cartoons, to put their HUMAN effort and time into the pursuit of performance."
She also likened the use of AI to "a horrendous Frankensteinian monster…" Williams is not the only one opposed to using AI in the entertainment industry. Director Tim Burton remarked about the technology, "What it does is it sucks something from you. It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It's like a robot taking your humanity, your soul." Forrest Gump actor Tom Hanks also dealt with an AI recreation of him being circulated online. A dental plan advertisement used an artificial version of the actor to promote their product. Hanks responded by warning his fans, "BEWARE!! There's a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it." Williams' concerns are felt throughout Hollywood.
The issue of AI was named a "mandatory subject of bargaining" in an official letter penned by SAG-AFTRA general counsel for the labor union, Jeffrey Bennett. As the strike continues and technology advances, it seems this is only the beginning of the debate on AI.