Tom Hanks unwillingly cloned by AI to sell dental plans

Why it matters: For years, machine learning algorithms have been used to create “deepfakes” of famous people. Now, things are even easier thanks to the new generation of generative AI tools, and well-known performers are as disgruntled as ever to become “AI actors” when there’s no contract or control in sight.

Tom Hanks used his Instagram profile to warn fans about a new, unauthorized “AI version” of himself created for advertising purposes. The actor said a video of a fake him promoting dental plans is circulating online. The imposter looks like a younger version of Hanks created by AI algorithms. The actor says he is not involved with this deepfake marketing in any way.

Hanks already experienced the uncanny wonders of CGI and face recreation through digital means in the past, becoming a 3D character in the Christmas family movie The Polar Express and elsewhere. Many famous actors and stars have no issues with face re-creation, at least when done with consent.

The deepfake advertising was done without his consent, and it sets off an alarm on unscrupulous abuse of generative AI technology and ML algorithms to profit from celebrity likenesses. Before the now-booming AI trend, people were already employing ML-based programs to create celebrity pornographic video clips, revenge porn, fake news, and other forms of generative nastiness.

Generative AI has now become a central topic of discussion for Hollywood and the whole entertainment industry. Members of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union are currently on strike because they want to restrict the use of AI and increase wages and retirement benefits for the TV show and film workforce.

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Noted SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said the entertainment business model has been entirely changed by streaming and digital before and by AI now. The actress stated that, without a strong mobilization, actors will all be “in jeopardy of being replaced” by machines and big corporations who care only about Wall Street and profits.

For now, the pushback against unregulated AI (ab)use has provided some positive results for the Writer’s Guild of America. The writers union reached an agreement with Hollywood representatives (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) to get improved working conditions, higher wages, and hopefully no unsolicited AI fakes.