Our reverence for stars and celebrities did not originate in the 19th century film revolution, but has been an integral part of our culture for millennia. Ancient tales of immortal gods reappearing after mortal injury, the worship and deification of social and political leaders, the wax museums of Madame Tussauds andAnnual Academy AwardsIn remembranceSegmentThey are all facets of the human compulsion to put well-known pioneers, trendsetters and trendsetters on pedestals. And with an amazingly realistic new generation of generative artificial intelligence (Gen-AI) at our disposal, today's celebrities could stay with us.long after his natural death. Like ghosts but still on TV promoting Bitcoin and Metaverse apps. Probably.
Fame is the name of the game.
American historian Daniel Boorstin once quipped, “To be famous is to be known for being known.” With the rise of social media, becoming a celebrity is now easier than ever, for better or for worse.
"Whereas stars are often associated with a kind of meritocracy,"Dra. Claire Sisco-Rey, Associate Professor of Communication Studies and President of theFilm and media art programat Vanderbilt. “Celebrity can be acquired through all types of media, and of course the advent of digital media has changed the contours of celebrity in many ways because so-called ordinary people can become famous in ways that were previously not possible to them. social media."
In addition, social networks offer an unprecedented levelaccess and privacybetween a celebrity and her fans, even inthe peak of the paparazzi era. "We develop these imaginary intimacies with celebrities and consider them friends and loved ones," King continued. "I think these types of relationships exemplify the longing that people have for connection and connectedness."
As banal as the existence of modern celebrities is portrayed in popular media, celebrities have long played an important role in society as trendsetters and cultural leaders. For example, during the Victorian era, the British used miniature portraits of Queen Victoria to signal their allegiance, and her decision to wear a white wedding dress in 1840 established the modern tradition. In the US, this manifests itself in celebrities as embodiments of the American dream: every single one of them has itthey got up of their own accordjsworn avocado toastTo achieve greatness despite humble beginningsProbably in some kind of suburban garage.
"The narratives we return to," King said, "can become a comfort in understanding that inevitable part of human experience: our finitude." But what if our culture heroes hadn't died? At least not at all? What if Tom Hanks, even after getting rid of that mortal spiral, had his image and personality preserved digitally forever? We send long-dead artists like Roy Orbison, Tupac Shakur and Whitney Houston on tour as holographic performers. The Large Language Models (LLMs) that power popular chatbots like ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and Bard are already able to mimic the writing style of any author they've been trained on. What prevents us from merging these technologies in an interactive environment?Fusion Tucker-Dolcettosynthesized content? It turns out there's not much beyond the danger of a bad news cycle.
How to build a 21st century puppet
Cheating death has been a desirable goal of mankind since prehistoric times. Themes like resurrection, youth preservation, and utter immortality are common tropes in our collective imagination: imaginings that founded religions, fomented wars, and spawned multi-billion dollar skincare and beauty empires. When a society's elites did not mummify before a glorious afterlife, the fragments of their bodies and possessions were collected and venerated as sacred relics, cultural artifacts to be treasured and cherished as a physical link to the great figures and facts of times past. .
Fortunately, advances in technology since the Middle Ages have eliminated the need to carry stuffed parts of your heroes in a coat pocket. Today, fans can connect with their favorite stars, living or long-dead, through the star's available catalog raisonné. For example, you can watch Robin Williams movies, stand-up specials,Mork and Mindy, and you could say that he reads his books more easily now than when he was alive. No one asks for holy rainbow staples when they can rent themJumanjifrom YouTube on your phone for $2.99. So is William Shakespeare, whose collected works you can read on a Kindle while waiting in line at the DMV.
At this point, it really doesn't matter how long a beloved celebrity has been gone: as long as large enough archives of their work remain, digital avatars can be created in their place using current projection technologies, generative AI systems, and sound. fake /Video. Take, for example, the recent fad of deceased singers and artists "going back on tour" as holographic projections of themselves.
Projection systemsdeveloped by BASE Hologram and the now defunct HologramUSA, which made headlines in the middle of the last decade with ghostly depictions of dead celebrities, used a well-known projection effect calledpepper spirit. Developed in the early 19th century by British inventor John Henry Pepper, the image of a performer backstage is reflected in a sheet of clear glass placed between the stage and the audience to create a translucent, ethereal effect ideal for the depiction of free spirits suits stage directors at the time.
It turns out the technique works just as well with high-definition video feeds and LED light sources as it does with people walking on sheets by candlelight. The modern equivalent is called "Musion Eyeliner" and instead of using a clear sheet of glass, it uses a thin metalized foil that's placed at a 45-degree angle toward the audience. For example, Gorillaz performed "live" at the 2006 Grammy Awards and Tupac made a posthumous appearance at Coachella in 2012, but the technology is limited by the size of the transparent film. If we ever will getJaws 19 Back to the Future II signage promised us, we will likely use fan projector arrays like those developed by a London based holographic startup,Hiperwsn, to do it.
“Holographic fans are types of displays that create a three-dimensional image that appears to be floating in mid-air by using the POV (Persistence of Vision) principle by using RGB LED strips attached to the fan blades , and a control unit that illuminates the fan's pixels”DR. Priya C., Associate Professor at Sri Sairam Engineering College, and teamwrote in a 2020 study on technology. "While the fan spins, the screen creates a full image."
dr Priya C continues: “Complex data is generally more effectively interpreted when represented in three dimensions. Therefore, in the information display industry, three-dimensional (3D) images, displays and displays are considered to be one of the most important technological developments that will enter our daily lives in the near future.”
"Technically speaking, the size [of a screen] is just a matter of the number of devices you use and how you really combine them," Anastasia Sheluto, Hypervsn's lead product manager, told Engadget. "The largest wall we've ever considered had about 400 devices, which was actually the facade of a building. A wall of 12 or 15 [projectors] gives you up to 4k resolution.” While fan assemblies need to be enclosed to protect them from the elements and the rest of us from being hit by a piece of plastic that comes with some thousand revolutions per minute, these displays are already being used in museums and shopping malls, trade fairs and industrial showcases. .
Additionally, these projector systems are rapidly acquiring streaming capabilities, allowing them to project live interactions rather than just pre-recorded messages. Finally the avatar of Steven Van ZandtARHT Media's holographic cube at Newark Internationalwill more than look like he's not mad, just disappointed, andthe digital TSA assistants of tomorrowit can do more than just repeat instructions from memory to passing travelers like humans do today.
Making Avatar Van Zandt sound like the man he's based on is no great feat either. Advances in deep false audio, better known as speech synthesis, and text-to-speech AI, such asPolly Amazonor Google's voice services, have led to the commercialization of celebrity synthesizer voice-overs.
Where it used to be cool to choose between Morgan Freeman and Darth Vader by reading our TomTom addresses, companies like Speechify now offer voice models of Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow and other celebrities who (or their heirs) have licensed their models. use. Even recording artists who have not specifically consented to the use of their voices.they find deep forgeries of his workappear on the internet.
At least in the case of Speechify, "our celebrity voices are strictly personal use only and are part of our non-commercial text-to-speech (TTS) reader only," said Tyler Weitzman.PerorarCo-founder and leader of AI, he told Engadget via email. You don't belong to usVoice-over-Studio. If a customer wants to turn their own voice into a synthetic AI voice for their own use, we're open to discussions."
"Text-to-speech is one of the world's most important technologies for human advancement," continued Weitzman. "[It has] the potential to dramatically increase literacy rates, spread human knowledge, and break down cultural barriers."
IA Prime Voice von ElevenLabsSimilarly, the software can reconstruct near-perfect voice clones from uploaded voice samples: the entry-level Instant Voice Clone service only requires about a minute of audio, but uses no actual AI model training (thereby limiting your voice range) and an Enterprise version, on which can only be accessed after proving that the voice they are cloning is licensed for that particular use. Additionally, “cloning features are limited to paid accounts. So if content created with ElevenLabs is shared or used in a way that violates the law, we can help trace it back to the content creator,” added ElevenLabs.
The enterprise-class service also requires nearly 3 hours of input data to properly train the language model, but company officials assure Engadget that "the results are almost indistinguishable from the original person's voice." Surely Steve Van Zandt has been on screen for just as long over the course ofby lillyhammerFour Seasons Series.
Unfortunately, the current need for extensive, preferably high-quality, audio recordings on which to train an KI-TTS model severely limits which famous people we could bring back. The stars and public figures of the second half of the 20th century would obviously have a much better chance of having three hours of tape available for training than, say, Presidents Jefferson or Lincoln. Sure, it's possible that a user could reverse-engineer a voiceprint from historical records: ElevenLabs voice design allows users to create and possibly recreate unique voices with adjustable properties like age, gender, or accentThe characteristic screech of Theodore Roosevelt, but it will never be like hearing the 26th President in person.
Giving the synthesized voices something to say proves to be a huge challenge to provide at least something historically accurate, as demonstrated by the GPT-3 based iOS app Historical Figures Chat. Capitalizing on the excitement surrounding ChatGPT, the app was found to be able to impersonate any of the 20,000 famous people from the annals of history. Despite its viral popularity in January,The app has been criticized by historiansfor returning numerous factual inaccuracies and characteristics of their figure models. Cambodian genocidal dictator Pol Pot never showed any remorse for his nation's life during his reign.fields of death, nor the Nazi general and architect of the Holocaust, Heinrich Himmler, but even a gentle nudge was enough for his digital replicas to spit out mea culpas.
"It's like all the ghosts of all these people hired the same PR consultants and are repeating the same PR nonsense," said Zane Cooper, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.Die Washington Post.
We can, but should we?
Precision issues aren't the only challenges Generative AI "ghosts" face today, as apparently not even death will save us from copyright and trademark lawsuits. "There are a lot of problems already," Dan Schwartz, partner and intellectual property litigator at Nixon Peabody, told Engadget. “Especially with things like ChatGPT and generative AI tools, there will end up being questions about intellectual property ownership.
"Whether it's a work of art, a piece of journalism, a piece of literature, or an academic piece, there will be questions about ownership of what comes out of it," he continued. "This problem hasn't really been defined yet, and I think we're a long way from copyright having a chance to fully address it. I think these technologies need a bit of leaching and fleshing out and there will be some growing pains before we get to meaningful regulation."
The US Copyright Office in Marchannounced that under US law, AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted by the user, and equated the process of getting the computer to produce a desired result with asking a human artist to do the same. "When an AI technology takes only human input and produces complex written, visual, or musical works in response, the 'traditional elements of authorship' are determined and executed by the technology, not the human user," the statement said of the office.
that's the oppositethe position taken by a federal appeals court. "[Patent law relating to AI] for the most part, it's pretty well established here in the US," Schwartz said, "that an AI system cannot be the inventor of a new patentable invention. It has to be a human, so it will affect how people apply for patents that emerge from generative AI tools.”
Aside from outcome-based violations, the training methods of companies like OpenAI and Stability AI, which rely on scouring the public internet for data to train their models with, have also proven problematic as theyrepeatedly caught complaintsby familiarizing yourself with other people's licensed artworks. In addition, generative AI has already shown great abilities and possibilities to create illegal content. Fake porn ad featuring synthetic images of Emma Watson and Scarlett Johanssonran more than two days on Facebookin March before they are reported and removed, for example.
Until the government wheels can turn enough to keep up with these new technologies, we must rely on market forces to prevent corporations from throwing the rest of us back into the Stone Age. So far, such forces have proven to be fast and efficient. At Google's new bard systemHe immediately (but confidently) looked for basic datavia the James Webb Space Telescope,This little doodle immediately screamed and erased $100 billionthe value of the company's shares. The chat app Historical Figures is also no longer available for download on the App Store, although several investment offers were reportedly received in January. Since then, it has been superseded by numerous clone apps with similar names.
"I think the best thing for society is a liability regime so people understand what the risks are," Schwartz argued. “So if you post something that creates inappropriate racist, homophobic, anti-any protected class content, whoever is responsible for providing that tool is likely to face potential liability. And I think that's going to play out pretty well over the next year or two."
Celebrity as an American industry
While the term "celebrity" has existed since it was coined in 17th-century France, it was Americans in the 20th century who first turned the term into a commercial enterprise.
By the late 1920s, with the advent of talkies, the fandom support industry was already in full swing. “They [had] fan magazines likemoving picture,stories magazineÖPhotoThat would have celebrity photos on the cover, it would have celebrity stories behind the scenes, stories about what happened on set," King explained. "As the movie industry evolves along with this, you start having Hollywood Studios." And with Hollywood Studios came thatstar system.
"Celebrity is always about fabricating images, creating stories," King said. The star system existed in the 1930s and 1940s, and it did to young actors and actresses what Crypton Future Media did to Hatsune Miku: it assembled them into products and built them from the ground up into synthetic personalities.
The actors, along with the writers, directors, and studio heads of the time, would coordinate to create specific personas for their stars. "You have the ingenuity or the bomb," King said. "The studios worked very closely with fan magazines, their own advertising agencies, and gossip columnists to tell very calculated stories about who the actors were." This shifted the focus away from the film itself and directly to the built and manageable personas created by the studio were created - another mask the actors had to wear in public and even after the cameras were turned off.
"Celebrity has been around for centuries and the way it exists now isn't fundamentally different from before," King added. "But it's really been amplified, intensified and made more pervasive by changes in industry and technological norms that have evolved over the 20th and 21st centuries."
Even after the death of Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks Prime will live forever
Under the breakneck pace of technological advances with generative AI (including deep fake audio and video) the promise of the future"touchable" plasma screensOfferHard light style tactile feedbackby femtosecond laser bursts, and Silicon Valley's gleeful indifference to the negative public costs stemming from its "disturbing" ideas, the arrival of immortalized digitized celebrities selling eczema cream and spreading comforting lies during commercial breaks is much more so now a question of when rather than if.
But what does this mean for celebrities who are still alive? What will it be like to know that even after the ravages of time have taken Tom Hanks from us, that at least an easily interactable likeness could continue to exist digitally? Does the gut feeling of never really getting rid of Jimmy Fallon allows us to hate him even more?
"Again, this idea of the celebrity simulacrum isn't entirely new," King explained. "We can point to something like Madame Tussaud's waxworks, which is an attempt to give us a version of celebrity, there are impersonators who dress and act like her, so I think people get some enjoyment out of it, to have access. to a celebrity approach. But that experience is never fully lived.”
"When you visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, there's a kind of aura [in the room]," he continued. “There's something intangible, almost magical, about experiencing this work of art in person, rather than seeing it printed on a poster or in a museum bag or, you know, a coffee mug, which loses some of its indescribable quality.” .