Daughter of George Carlin horrified someone cloned her dad with AI for hour special

Seven words you can't say – This won't backfire and ruin art forever

The makers of an hour-long AI-generated comedy special mimicking the late and great American comedian and actor George Carlin have been criticized for, apparently, not obtaining explicit permission from his family to impersonate his voice and style for the vid.

The show, titled "George Carlin: I'm Glad I'm Dead," was uploaded on Tuesday to YouTube by actor and comedian Will Sasso and podcaster Chad Kultgen. It appears the duo have crafted an AI personality called Dudesy that attempts to impersonate celebrities – in this instance, George Carlin. The underlying fake persona doesn't just try to sound like the modern-day philosopher, while acknowledging repeatedly it's not him, it uses a script that he didn't write either.

Carlin's daughter Kelly wasn't particularly amused to learn the pair had trained some generative neural network on her father's work. This week she claimed "zero permission [was] granted" to the creators for the episode, and slammed the AI-based routine. She said her dad had spent a lifetime perfecting his craft, and no machine (or someone hiding behind a machine) could ever replace his genius.

"These AI generated products are clever attempts at trying to recreate a mind that will never exist again. Let's let the artist's work speak for itself. Humans are so afraid of the void that we can't let what has fallen into it stay there," she added

When asked on Twitter what's the problem with an AI impressionist riffing off her dad, Carlin replied: "I’m worried about his legacy. His reputation. His art. I’m allowed to do that as his daughter and while I’m alive."

We've asked Sasso and Kultgen for their side of the story. We'll leave it up to you to judge how good the impersonation is.

Widely accessible generative AI tools and a wealth of content that can be easily scraped from the internet has made it easy to train computers to replicate someone's work. 

Performers in the entertainment industry have grown increasingly concerned that their faces or voices can be cloned using AI without compensation, and that their digital replica will be used in TV, films, commercials and replace them in their jobs.

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors and media professionals in the US, has successfully negotiated with media studios, forcing them to obtain explicit consent for generating digital replicas of actors' faces, bodies, and voices using AI, and must compensate them accordingly when they're used.

At CES this week the union announced it had entered into a deal with Replica Studios, an AI startup, to license members' voices to be used in video games and other media. 

"Recent developments in AI technology have underscored the importance of protecting the rights of voice talent, particularly as game studios explore more efficient ways to create their games," SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. "With this agreement, we have achieved fully informed consent and fair compensation when it comes to the use of our members' voices and performances."

Some union members, however, are unhappy about the deal that was reportedly negotiated without their knowledge and approval. ®

PS: Tennessee has signed into law its Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (yes, ELVIS) Act, which is said to provide protections for songwriters, performers, and other professionals from the misuse of their voices with AI.

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