New Anthony Bourdain Documentary Uses AI Tech To Make Him Say Things He Never Said

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A new documentary about the life and tragic death of Anthony Bourdain is drawing backlash. The film, titled Roadrunner, contains a few lines of dialogue in Bourdain’s voice that he said in writing, but may have never said out loud.

Filmmakers used AI technology to digitally re-create the chef and television host’s voice. Helen Rosner with The New Yorker discovered the deep-faked voice, when she asked how the filmmaker got a clip of Bourdain’s voice reading an email he sent to a friend. The filmmaker told her they contacted an AI company and supplied it with a dozen hours of Bourdain speaking.

You can hear one line using the AI generated voice in the film trailer where he “says,” “You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: are you happy?”

The discovery has sparked a conversation on Twitter about the ethics of cloning a dead person’s voice. Some users writing things like, “I think this is pretty grotesque,” and “I hate this! How disrespectful! I was looking forward to this documentary but I’ll boycott it now that I know this.”

Documentary filmmaker Lindsay Beyerstein also chimed in, saying, “There’s no real problem with using AI in the place of a soundalike actor in a non-fiction film, as long as the creators are upfront about what they’re doing.”

Our question of the night: do you think using an AI recreation of a dead person’s voice is ethical?

This episode’s panel features:
WCCB TV’s Morgan Fogarty
WCCB News @ Ten anchor Drew Bollea
WCCB Sports anchor Zach Aldridge