Film causes controversy by digitally recreating Anthony Bourdain’s voice

Film causes controversy by digitally recreating Anthony Bourdain's voice

The documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” released in US theaters yesterday, has been criticized by audiences and filmmakers for using artificial intelligence to recreate the voice of a chef who died in 2018.

In interview with gq magazine, director Morgan Neville claims he had permission to administer his estate as well as the literary agent of Anthony Bourdain’s widow and chef. On Twitter, widow Ottavia Bourdain denied: “It certainly wasn’t me who said Tony wouldn’t mind.”

In the interview, Neville explains that the company hired to recreate the chef’s voice supplied an artificial intelligence with over 10 hours of recordings of Bourdain’s voice so that the results were reliable.

A digitally created voice was used to insert three sentences into the documentary that Anthony Bourdain wrote but was never recorded as saying. On social networks, viewers question whether the resource is ethical:

“The filmmaker’s decision to use artificial intelligence to reproduce written quotes from Bourdain (even with the permission of conservation administrators) is disturbing. It’s not perfect. One person’s tone, rhythm, timing are all Reflect their thoughts during speech. Artificial intelligence can reproduce your voice, but it can never understand your feelings. Disgusting, really,” says one Twitter user.

Others see no problem with using technology for this purpose: “You’re making it a lot bigger than you really are. Using artificial intelligence to read quotes the director made to understand.” Considered very important. As you wish.”

The director reveals the use of artificial intelligence in the film The New Yorker Magazine Interview in which the journalist asks how he found a recording of a specific speech by Borden. The director says he does not intend to reveal which other parts have been created digitally:

If you watch the movie, other than the line you mentioned, you probably won’t know what other quotes were said by artificial intelligence. And you’ll never know. Later we can argue about the ethics of documentaries.

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About the author: Will Smith

Will covers public and private tech markets from New York. He was previously a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University, and prior to that was a reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal. He has received a Journalist of the Year award from the L.A. Press Club and an investigative reporting award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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