A documentary about late chef Anthony Bourdain has sparked controversy for its use of a deep fake voiceover.
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Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, has been released in the US. In an interview with The New Yorker , director Morgan Neville confirmed that Artificial Intelligence was used in three instances to replicate Bourdain’s voice in order to read his own quotes aloud.
“If you watch the film, other than that line you mentioned, you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know,” he said.
Neville explained the process of recreating Bourdain’s voice in an interview with GQ. “We fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model,” he said. “The bigger the quantity, the better the result.”
According to Neville, the creative decision had been cleared by those closest to Bourdain. “I checked, you know, with his widow and his literary executor, just to make sure people were cool with that. And they were like, Tony would have been cool with that.”
However, critics have taken to social media to speak out against the use of AI in the film.
“We… need to collectively reevaluate our relationships with notable artists and question why we feel so entitled to them even in death,” tweeted one journalist.
ok between the anthony bourdain deepfake thing & the pop smoke posthumous release thing i think we (as in fans/consumers but also creators and execs) need to collectively reevaluate our relationships with notable artists and question why we feel so entitled to them even in death
— hot girl midsommar (@verymimi) July 15, 2021
“That’s ethically fucked up on so many levels and is really gross,” wrote screenwriter Ashley Lynch.
That Anthony Bourdain doc used AI to deepfake his voice and make Bourdain posthumously say things he didn't say.
That's ethically fucked up on so many levels and is really gross. https://t.co/ABCRIAax4u
— Ashley Lynch (@ashleylynch) July 15, 2021
In response to the backlash, Neville told Variety: “There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud. With the blessing of his estate and literary agent we used AI technology.”
He added: “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.”
Meanwhile, the second novel by the late US chef has been green-lit for a TV series.
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