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Robin Williams' Daughter Rips 'Horrendous' Use Of AI To Recreate Dead Actors On Screen

Zelda Williams put Hollywood on blast for using AI to recreate deceased actors who can't consent in a fiery Instagram story.

Zelda Williams; Robin Williams
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/GettyImages, Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The use of advanced artificial Intelligence remains a looming threat in Hollywood and is one of several points of contention that SAG/AFTRA union members are fighting against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in the ongoing strike.

According to SAG/AFTRA, "the right to digitally replicate a performer's voice or likeness to substantially manipulate a performance, or to create a new digital performance is a mandatory subject of bargaining."

They also noted that a performer's voice, likeness, or performance can be used to train an artificial intelligence system to generate "new visual, audio, or audiovisual content."

Major studios can also own an actor's likeness in perpetuity after they have passed, which Zelda Williams–daughter of late actor and comedian Robin Williams–found very "disturbing."

She spoke out on the "very, very real threat" that actors are facing with the potential abuse of AI in the entertainment industry.

Williams, who is also an actor, director, producer, and writer, said in an impassioned Instagram story post:

"I am not an impartial voice in SAG's fight against AI."

The Hollywood scion invoked her famous father, who is known for voicing the Genie in Disney's Aladdin and performing in many notable leading roles in films like Dead Poets Society and Mrs. Doubtfire.

"I've witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these modes to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad."
"This isn't theoretical, it is very very real. 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' statement came as Disney said they did not use AI for their upcoming short, Once Upon a Studio.

The film will honor the 100-year legacy of Disney animation studios and will feature previously unheard dialogue of her father voicing the Genie–who would appear in the film alongside Olaf from Frozen voiced by Josh Gad.

In response to some backlash for the gimmick, Gad insisted that Williams' estate gave consent for the use of the prerecorded dialogue.

In her post, Williams continued:

"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."
"These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people, but at their worst, a horrendous Frankenstein monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for."


Social media users supported her statement.

The BBC recently reported on a concerning announcement that the Hollywood legend James Dean, who died in a car crash in 1955, would be brought to life in a sequel to 1955's East of Eden called Back to Eden.

A digital clone of Dean created from AI technology similar to that of Deepfakes would walk, talk, and interact with other actors in the new movie, a gimmick that is raising questions about what rights anyone has after death.

This would not be the first time deceased actors were resurrected on the screen.

The likenesses of Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Paul Walker (Fast & Furious) were digitally created to reprise their iconic roles posthumously in their respective sequels.