Scarlett Johansson takes legal action against AI app for cloning her voice in an ad

In March this year, deepfakes of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer jacket and Donald Trump getting arrested stirred up a storm online. People started talking about the implications of using AI technology, and how it could spread misinformation. Many AI experts also weighed in on the debate, and Microsoft’s president Brad Smith had said that we need to take action to protect people from AI-manipulated content.

Over time, this discussion died down. But now, it has resurfaced. Actress Scarlett Johansson is making headlines for taking legal action against an AI app, saying that her voice and likeness had been cloned by the app developer for an advertisement.

Scarlett Johansson’s voice cloned to promote AI app

A report in Variety states that the Marvel actress appeared in a 22-second commercial for AI image-generating app called Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar on X. The ad reportedly featured Johansson from a BTS clip of her film Black Widow. In the clip, the actress says, “What’s up guys? It is Scarlett and I want you to come with me.” Then, the screen transitions and AI-generated photos resembling the actress surface along with an AI-generated voice imitating the Marvel star. The voice promotes the AI app and says, “It’s not limited to avatars only. You can also create images with texts and even your AI videos. I think you shouldn’t miss it.”

The Variety report adds that throughout the commercial, a disclaimer was displayed that said, “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.”

Johansson’s team told Variety that the actress isn’t associated with the app in any way and that they will be taking legal action against the app. The publication also reports that the app was first spotted online on October 28 but appears to have been taken down since then.

“We do not take these things lightly. Per our usual course of action in these circumstances, we will deal with it with all legal remedies that we will have,” said the actress’s lawyer in a statement to Variety.

Microsoft chief’s warning against AI content

In May this year, after deepfakes of Pope Francis, Elon Musk, Donald Trump and others surfaced online, Microsoft president Brad Smith had commented on the need for AI regulation.

A Reuters report had revealed that Smith, while delivering a speech in Washington, expressed his concern around AI-generated deepfakes.

He said, “We’re going have to address the issues around deep fakes. We’re going to have to address in particular what we worry about most foreign cyber influence operations, the kinds of activities that are already taking place by the Russian government, the Chinese, the Iranians.”

Smith further added that the need of the hour was to take steps to ‘protect against the alteration of legitimate content with the intent to deceive or defraud people through the use of AI’. He also asked for licensing of AI with ‘obligations to protect security, physical security, cybersecurity, national security’.

“We will need a new generation of export controls, at least the evolution of the export controls we have, to ensure that these models are not stolen or not used in ways that would violate the country’s export control requirements,” he had added.

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