Tom Hanks, the Oscar-winning actor, recently issued a warning to his fans about the unauthorized use of his artificial intelligence (AI) likeness in a video promoting a dental plan. In an Instagram post, Hanks alerted his followers to the video, emphasizing that he had no involvement in it and urging caution.
Hanks’ Longstanding Concerns About AI in Entertainment
Hanks has been an outspoken critic of the use of AI in the entertainment industry. He has expressed concerns about the potential misuse of AI-generated likenesses for various purposes, including promotional materials and films. His reservations about AI in entertainment date back to his experience with the 2004 movie “The Polar Express,” which marked the first time his digital likeness was used without his direct involvement.
In a podcast interview on “The Adam Buxton Podcast” in May, Hanks shared his concerns about the legal and artistic challenges posed by AI in entertainment. He noted that AI-generated performances could continue indefinitely and that it might be challenging for audiences to discern whether a performance was entirely human or AI-enhanced.
The Use of Motion-Capture Technology in “The Polar Express”
“The Polar Express,” a beloved Christmas movie, utilized motion-capture technology to capture subtle facial expressions and muscle movements of actors, including Hanks. This data was then processed using computer technology to create 3D renderings that were integrated into the film. The movie combined live-action elements with motion-capture computer animation, resulting in characters that fell into the “uncanny valley” of realism.
Industry-Wide Concerns and Negotiations
Hollywood has grappled with concerns surrounding the use of AI in the entertainment industry. Both writers and actors have been at the forefront of negotiations to establish safeguards in their contracts regarding the use of AI technology in film and television projects.
A recent tentative agreement between writers and studios included provisions prohibiting the use of AI to write or edit scripts and to generate AI-generated content as source material for screenwriters. The actors’ guild’s strike is still ongoing, with negotiations expected to continue.
AI’s Unauthorized Use and Hanks’ Warning
One of the major fears among actors is that studios could exploit AI to profit from their likenesses without their permission, a concern validated by the unauthorized use of Tom Hanks’ AI likeness in the dental plan video. Hanks believes that the industry had foreseen such issues, and he cautioned about the increasing prevalence of AI-generated content.
As AI technology continues to advance and its applications in entertainment expand, industry professionals like Hanks advocate for clear guidelines and protections to address the ethical, legal, and artistic challenges posed by AI in the creative realm.
Hanks’ warning serves as a reminder of the ongoing debates and negotiations in the entertainment industry regarding the responsible and ethical use of AI in various creative endeavors.