As Hollywood grapples with its most significant labor dispute in over half a century, the role of AI in the entertainment industry has come under intense scrutiny, with British actor Stephen Fry revealing his voice was digitally cloned without his consent based on his narration of Harry Potter audiobooks. Fortune reports that AI is at the epicenter of the labor dispute gripping Hollywood. Among those raising the alarm is British actor and author Stephen Fry, who recently spoke at the CogX Festival in London about his unsettling experience of having his voice digitally replicated without his permission. NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 24: Marissa Carpio joins SAG-AFTRA members as they maintain picket lines in front of Netflix on August 24, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by John Nacion/Getty Images) “I’m a proud member of [actors’ union SAG-AFTRA]. As you know, we’ve been on strike for three months now. And one of the burning issues is AI,” Fry said during his speech. SAG-AFTRA, which boasts around 160,000 members, went on strike over concerns related to pay, working conditions, and the use of AI in the film industry.
The strike follows the Writers Guild of America, marking the industry’s most significant shutdown in over six decades.
The core issue for actors like Fry is the potential for studios to use AI to digitally clone their likeness without fair compensation. Union president Fran Drescher emphasized that AI “poses an existential threat” to creative industries. “Actors need protection from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay,” Drescher stated. To drive home his point, Fry played a clip at the CogX Festival of an AI system mimicking his voice to narrate a documentary. “I said not one word of that—it was a machine. Yes, it shocked me,” Fry revealed. “They used my reading of the seven volumes of the Harry Potter books, and from that dataset, an AI of my voice was created, and it made that new narration.” Fry is not alone in his concerns. Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox shared that a friend in the industry had been told “in no uncertain terms” that a studio would keep his image and do what they liked with it. Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and Star Trek star Simon Pegg have also expressed apprehensions about the rise of AI in Hollywood. Read more at Fortune here. Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.
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