By Samparna Pattnaik

Artificial Intelligence is ruling the digital world today. But it has its own pros and cons. Concerns have been raised over deepfakes and the focus of the concern is entirely on the misinformation and malice. These are basically concerned with the deepfake pornography and AI generated photos, like the deepfake video of Rashmika Mandanna which triggered a series of controversies. Her photo was edited with her face superimposed on a Gujarati influencer’s face. A few deepfake incidents like these spread on internet like the explicit videos of Alia Bhatt or Kajol. However, these problems concerning technology are apparent and indisputable.

One indistinct area of concern related to Artificial Intelligence is the danger it poses for the creatives. The problem of deepfakes has been felt through malicious acts alone. AI artists use tons of images to create a new image and same with voice which can be imitated to sound exactly the same like any other artist. We see the case of Rashmika Mandanna whose face was edited without her consent.

A case of voice deepfake can be seen in the case of the late comedian George Carlin whose estate settled a lawsuit with two American podcasters, Chad Kultgen and Will Sasso, who used a deepfaked voice of George Carlin in one of their podcast episodes. The estate argued that, regardless of anything, the things said by the deepfaked voice might not be what Carlin actually felt. Kultgen and Sasso ultimately agreed to take down the podcast episode and other versions of the podcast and never use Carlin’s voice or photo again in any content they make hereafter.

Reportedly, the normalization of these Art forms has also been done by an OTT platform when last year they released a short Anime film which was partly generated with artificial Intelligence. On January 31st 2023, Netflix Japan shared a post on X with the short film revealing that the animation was a joint project by the streamer’s Anime Creators Base initiative, anime producer Wit Studio, and A.I. development company Rinna. The film met with overwhelmingly negative responses from the audience.

Similarly, an art piece by Sarah Anderson was copied and edited to depict the Neo-Nazi ideology. She shared in an opinion piece that Alt-right created a shadow version of her that created images similar to her style depicting such ideology a few years ago. Citing that the development of AI made it easier for people to copy her art, she said she was disturbed by the fact that one could make similar art as her by just typing her name as a command to the program.

The music industry was hit by similar incidents where AI-generated artists took the stage like other musicians. In September last year, Noonoouri, an AI-generated influencer signed a record deal with Warner Music. The Korean music industry also came out with a series of AI artist groups like MAVE and ETERNITY.

Not to forget the deepfaked voice of late Sidhu Moosewala which made a comeback in around 38 tracks garnering tens of thousands of views. The family of Moosewala came up with an official statement saying that the AI tracks with Moosewala’s deepfake voice is doing more harm than good to his legacy. The statement read - “His talent was unmatched and we would like it to stay the same.”

Prominent artistes like AR Rahman also chose to use AI technology in songs. Rahman faced severe criticism for using the deepfake voices of Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a song in Rajnikanth’s new movie, Lal Saleem. Also, there have been mixed reactions to the deepfake audios created with Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi and KK’s voice.

Last week, around the time with the George Carlin’s settlement case, a number of music artistes were battling for legal protection against AI. Nearly 200 popular artistes, including Billie Eillish, J Balvin, Nicki Minaj and the estates of Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley, signed an open letter asking AI developing companies to stop creating AI programs that could undermine the musicians and also to initiate measures to protect the work of human creatives against AIs.

The ethical issues about AI and the rights of the creatives are becoming more apparent. The first spark in the discussion of this topic came after a documentary in 2021 about the late Chef Anthony Bourdain. The documentary features a deepfaked voice of the late chef reading a distressing email he had sent to a friend shortly before he died.

The topic of deepfakes and AI ethics was also raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said, “Bharat is fully committed to the responsible and ethical use of AI.” PM Modi had also called for a global framework for regulating Artificial Intelligence. Whereas, Tennessee became the first US state to make it illegal to deepfake an artist’s voice without their consent calling the legislation the “Elvis Act”.