Ned Luke, the actor whose roles include GTA 5's Michael De Santa, has gone off on an AI company that released an unlicensed voice chatbot based on the character, and succeeded in having the offending bot nuked from the internet (first spotted by PCGamesN).
AI company WAME had tweeted a link to its Michael chatbot on January 14 along with the text: "Any GTA fans around here? Now take your gaming experience to another level. Try having a realistic voice conversation with Michael De Santa, the protagonist of GTA 5, right now!"
Unfortunately for WAME, it quickly attracted the attention of Luke, who does not seem like the type of man to hold back. "This is fucking bullshit WAME," says Luke (though I am definitely hearing all this in Michael's voice). "Absolutely nothing cool about ripping people off with some lame computer estimation of my voice. Don’t waste your time on this garbage.”
Luke also tagged Rockstar Games and the SAG-AFTRA union, since when the chatbot and tweets promoting it have been deleted. Fellow actors including Roger Clark weighed in with sympathy about how much this kind of stuff sucks, and our boy wasn't done by a long shot:
"I'm not worried about being replaced, Roger," says Luke. "I just hate these fuckers, and am pissed as fuck that our shitty union is so damn weak that this will soon be an issue on legit work, not just some lame douchebag tryna make $$ off of our voices."
Luke is here referring to a recent SAG-AFTRA "ethical AI" agreement which has gone down with some of its members like a cup of cold sick. He's still not done with the zingers though:
Musician Marilou A. Burnel (not affiliated with WAME) pops up to suggest that "creative people make remarkable things with AI, and the opposite is also true."
"Not using my voice they don’t," says Luke.
Truly, well said. For its part, WAME's website has all the usual web3 guff about how its technology will "elevate [our] unique identity and potential" and "showcase your personal journey", all backed with Blade Runner-esque clips of dead-eyed AI bots. Since the pushback over the Michael bot, WAME issued a statement expressing "our profound understanding and concern."
Profound understanding and concern. They nicked the guy's voice!
"This incident has highlighted the intricate interplay between the advancement of AI technology and the ethical and legal realms," says WAME. If you think that's breathtaking, get a load of this: "WAME commits to protecting the rights of voice actors and creators while advancing ethical AI practices." Absolutely amazing stuff.
There are big ethical debates over AI and, sure, they're probably going to be going on for the rest of all our lives. But in cases like this, I'm inclined to side with Luke. Sometimes, you do just hate the companies behind this stuff.