Robin Williams’s daughter calls out ‘disturbing’ use of AI recreation of her father

‘I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad,’ Zelda said

Ellie Harrison
Monday 02 October 2023 16:40 BST
Remembering Robin Williams

Robin Williams’s daughter Zelda has criticised the use of artificial intelligence to recreate the sound of her late father’s voice.

Williams, one of America’s most adored actors and star of Mrs Doubtfire and Dead Poets Society, died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 62. He had Lewy Body Dementia at the time of his death.

The actor also voiced many famous characters throughout his career, from Genie in Aladdin and Fender in Robots to Batty Koda in FernGully: The Last Rainforest.

Reacting to the Hollywood actors’ strike – which is partly over the use of Artificial Intelligence in the industry – on her Instagram Story on Sunday (2 October), actor Zelda, 34, posted: “I am not an impartial voice in SAG’s fight against AI.

“I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad.

“This isn’t theoretical, it is very very real. I’ve already heard AI used to get his ‘voice’ to say whatever people want and while I find it personally disturbing, the ramifications go far beyond my own feelings.”

She added: “Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their choices, to voice cartoons, to put their HUMAN effort and time into the pursuit of performance.

“These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people, but at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”

Hollywood actors are currently striking over a range of issues, from the use of AI to residual payments.

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Writers were also participating in a simultaneous strike, but at the end of September, the Writers Guild of America announced that they had reached a major development and struck a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers – the group that represents studios, streaming services and producers in negotiations.

This brought one of the longest strikes in the industry’s history to a close, and means late-night talk shows are resuming production.

Robin Williams

CBS’s The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! and NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon were the first shows to leave the air when the writers strike began on 2 May, and now will be among the first to return on Monday night (2 October).

However, most TV and film productions are set to remain on hold as the actors’s strike continues, with SAG-AFTRA resuming talks with the studios this week.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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