Tom Hanks and Zelda Williams Warn Fans of AI-Generated Deepfakes


Tom Hanks and Zelda Williams Warn Fans of AI-Generated Deepfakes

Legendary actor Tom Hanks and Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, joined the chorus of voices sounding the alarm about the proliferation of AI deepfakes. Hanks called out the apparent publication of an AI-generated video of the Castaway and Saving Private Ryan star promoting, of all things, a dental plan.

“Beware! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me,” Hanks wrote on Instagram on Sunday. “I have nothing to do with it.”

Hanks, who most recently starred in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, is only the latest celebrity to have an AI-generated deepfake of his likeness surface in the last week. On Sunday, Zelda Williams posted a lengthy Instagram post decrying the use of AI to recreate her father’s voice.

“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,” Williams wrote. “Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their choices, to voice cartoons, to put their human effort and time into the pursuit of performance.”

Tom Hanks and Zelda Williams Warn Fans of AI-Generated Deepfakes

Image: Zelda Williams

“These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people,” Williams added. “But at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”

The news of the Hanks and Williams’ deepfakes comes a month after Hanks, Anna Hathaway, and Octavia Spencer reportedly had the characteristics to create digital avatars of the performers stored in Metaphysic’s database as a way to stop this very thing from happening.

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Earlier this year and thanks to developments in AI technology, Hanks said he believes his career could go on indefinitely thanks to his digital avatar from the 2004 film “The Polar Express.”

“I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s it, but my performances can go on and on and on and on and on,” Hanks said on the Adam Buxton podcast.

Deepfakes are AI-generated images, videos, and audio created to deceive people. Scammers are increasingly using the technology to exploit and con people by posting fake but convincing content. Deepfake technology has gotten so good that agencies, including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission, warn the public to be cautious.

In August, the AI-generated remix of The Weeknd’s Starboy went viral after the “voice” of singer Selena Gomez and, like the Hanks deepfake, was uploaded to Instagram. Gomez called the song “scary.”

A-list celebrities and famous faces aren’t the only people worried about their digital likenesses being exploited. Part of the dispute between the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, better known as SAG-AFTRA, and Hollywood studios centered on the controversial practice of taking full-body scans of background actors to be able to re-use them indefinitely.

“They are basically trying to weed us out as human beings and making us defunct,” actor and SAG-AFTRA member Page Kennedy told Decrypt outside of Netflix’s Los Angeles offices, adding that AI lacks the nuanced understanding and adaptability humans gain through life’s ups and downs.”

Representatives for Hanks declined Decrypt’s request for comment, while Zelda Williams has not yet responded.


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