Anthony Bourdain’s documentary sparks negative reactions for using AI to forge voice | Antoine Bourdain

A new documentary on Anthony Bourdain has sparked debate over his use of artificial intelligence to put together quotes voiced by the late celebrity chef and breathe life into his voice.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, directed by Morgan Neville, takes an intimate look at Bourdain’s life and death, including his worldwide fame, career, and pursuit of happiness.

In a recent interview with the New Yorker, Neville revealed he was using AI to synthetically create a voiceover reading of an email by Bourdain himself.

There were a total of three lines of dialogue that Neville wanted Bourdain to tell about, the filmmaker explained in his interview. However, since he couldn’t find the previous audio, he instead contacted a software company and provided around a dozen hours of recordings, in turn creating an AI model of Bourdain’s voice.

In the film, there is a scene from an email Bourdain sent to his friend, artist David Choe. Bourdain writes, and viewers hear his voice read aloud, “My life is kind of shit now. You are successful, and I have succeeded, and I ask myself: are you happy? But the voice was actually created by AI.

Neville added, “If you watch the movie… you probably don’t know what other lines the AI ​​has spoken, and you won’t.”

Despite Neville describing its use of AI technology as a “modern storytelling technique,” critics have voiced concerns on social media about the unexpected use of a “deepfake” voice to say phrases Bourdain did ‘never uttered.

Bourdain’s ex-wife, Ottavia Bourdain, was among those unhappy with the use of AI. She challenged Neville’s complaints that he had received his blessing to use artificial technology, Tweeter: “I was definitely NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with this.”

Boston WBUR film critic Sean Burns denounced the filmmakers, writing: “When I wrote my review, I didn’t know that the filmmakers had used an AI to fake Bourdain’s voice… I feel like this tells you everything you need to know about people’s ethics behind this project. “

Neville, however, insisted there was no manipulation, saying, “I wasn’t putting words in his mouth. I was just trying to bring them to life.

With AI on the rise, the metrics employed by the new documentary have once again raised questions about the ethics of storytelling. As deepfakes get more advanced, critics worry about an increasing slippery slope surrounding what’s real and what’s wrong.

Nonetheless, the reviews don’t seem to concern Neville.

“We can have a documentary ethics panel on this later,” he told The New Yorker.



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