AI | Tom Hanks says he had “nothing to do with” a video of him selling a dental plan

Tom Hanks
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Tom Hanks took to Instagram to warn his followers that it’s not really him selling them a dental plan in an AI-created video.

The future is here and it looks… creepy. Beloved actor Tom Hanks has shown up in an ad, selling a dental plan of all things – but turns out that Hanks had nothing to do with the video.

“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it,” Hanks said in an Instagram post on Sunday (1 October).

That’s right, the thing we’ve all been fearing is now here and it all starts with dental plans. World domination will happen next week.

In all seriousness, it’s a scary development. Using someone’s image without consent, or seemingly any kind of compensation, is exactly what the current actors’ strike has boiled down to.


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Hanks also spoke on the matter on a podcast a few months ago.

“We saw this coming,” the actor said on Adam Buxton’s podcast in April. “We saw that there was going to be this ability to take zeros and ones inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character. Now that has only grown a billionfold since then, and we see it everywhere.”

He added: “I can tell you that there [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice – and everybody else’s – being our intellectual property.

“Right now if I wanted to, I could get together and pitch a series of seven movies that would star me in them in which I would be 32 years old from now until kingdom come. Anybody can now recreate themselves at any age they are by way of AI or deepfake technology.”

Hanks also noted that with AI, actors could keep acting long after they’re dead. It’s not exactly a new thing; Star Wars has either brought actors back from the dead (Peter Cushing in Rogue One) or considerably de-aged them (Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill). And who could forget the de-aging in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny?

Crucially, filmmakers probably had consent from Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher while filming their respective appearances. Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, but appeared in 2016’s Rogue One with the help of some computer shenanigans, had no say in the matter of where and how his image would pop up, decades later. It’s a subject that Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, has also addressed recently. “I’ve already heard AI used to get his [Robin Williams’] ‘voice’ to say what people want,” she wrote in her own recent Instagram post.

If an actor of Tom Hanks’ stature isn’t safe from having his image used against his wishes, meanwhile, what chance does anyone else have? Now that the writers’ strike has concluded, we’re hoping the actors and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) can also reach an agreement. We’ll just have to wait and see what that means for image rights and AI.

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