Anthony Bourdain documentary sparks backlash for using AI to fake voice
A recently released documentary pertaining to the late Anthony Bourdain and his life has sparked a debate over the film’s use of artificial intelligence. The AI was used to stitch together voices quotes by the late celebrity and bring his voice back to life for the documentary. The film is directed by Morgan Neville and titled Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdan. The documentary looks into Bourdain’s life, fame, career, pursuit of happiness, and death. Nevill recently revealed the fact that he used AI to synthetically create of voiceover reading of an email that appeared to be Bourdain himself. However, when people discovered that it was not Bourdain and was rather a very convincing copy made by an AI machine, controversy sparked over the ethics of the practice.
According to Neville, there were three lines of dialogue that he wanted Bourdain to narrate. He then contacted a software company instead and provided roughly 12 hours of legitimate recordings of Bourdain to create the AI model. Neville described the use of the AI technology as a modern storytelling unique, however, critics painted a different picture and referred to the voiceover as a deepfake to say sentences that were never spoken by the late celebrity. Among the critics is Bourdain’s ex-wife Ottavia Bourdain. Mrs. Bourdain disputed Neville’s claims and stated that she did not authorize or give her blessing for the use of the artificial technology. Sean Burns, a film critic for WBUR, also took a negative stance towards the incident after releasing a positive review, stating that it raised ethics concerns and that he was unaware that the voiceover was AI-produced at the time of his review.