Robin Williams

George Carlin’s daughter lambasts AI-generated video of late comedian

Kelly Carlin decries comedy special on YouTube that generated a fake Carlin, saying ‘no machine will ever replace his genius’

Kelly Carlin, the American radio host and daughter of the late comedian George Carlin, has criticized the release of a new comedy special featuring an AI-generated version of her father, who died in 2008 due to heart failure.

“My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius. These AI-generated products are clever attempts at trying to recreate a mind that will never exist again,” Kelly Carlin wrote in a series of tweets on X.

The tweets arrived on the heels of Dudesy, a YouTube channel and podcast hosted by Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, releasing an hour-long comedy special called I’m Glad I’m Dead, on Tuesday. The channel, which features AI, is self-described as the “first of its kind media experiment”.

The comedy special opened up with a message, saying: “Hello! My name is Dudesy and I’m a comedy AI … I just want to let you know very clearly that what you’re about to hear is not George Carlin. It’s my impersonation of George Carlin that I developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would. I listened to all of George Carlin’s material and did my best to imitate his voice, cadence, attitude, as well as the subject matter that I think would interest him today.”

It continued: “Think of it like Andy Kaufman impersonating Elvis, or like Will Ferrell impersonating George W Bush,” the message added. The comedy special went on to explore a slew of topics including religion, mass shootings, Donald Trump, billionaires, technology and identity.

At one point, the special focused on Elon Musk, with the AI-generated George Carlin saying: “If you’re tired of hearing about Elon Musk fathering even more children and planting microchips, stop buying Teslas for a year. Company goes under, Musk goes away. Stop using Twitter for even a month. Company goes under, Musk goes away.”

The AI-generated George Carlin added: “But if you want to drive with your head in your ass and blame it on the car, you have to have a Tesla. And if you want to argue with strangers about complex geopolitical situations using only cat memes, you have to have Twitter.”

Following its release, Kelly Carlin lambasted it, saying on X: “Let’s let the artist’s work speak for itself. Humans are so afraid of the void that we can’t let what has fallen into it stay there. Here’s an idea, how about we give some actual living human comedians a listen to? But if you want to listen to the genuine George Carlin, he has 14 specials that you can find anywhere.”

In a follow-up tweet, Kelly Carlin called on the adult children of other late comedians including Robin Williams’s daughter Zelda Williams and Joan Rivers’s daughter Melissa Rivers, as well as the official X account of Garry Shandling, the comedian who died in 2016.

“We should talk. They’re coming for you next,” she wrote.

Tuesday’s AI-generated use of George Carlin, widely regarded as one of the most influential comedians of all time, is not the first time creators have turned to AI to generate fake content.

Last April, former NFL champion Tom Brady threatened to sue Dudesy’s creators after they released an AI-generated comedy special – which they later took down – of a fake Brady telling jokes. According to Brady’s attorneys, the comedy special, which was titled It’s Too Easy! A Simulated Hour-Long Comedy Special, “blatantly violated” Brady’s rights, CBS Sports reports.

In 2021, a documentary on the late celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain sparked backlash from his ex-wife Ottavia Bourdain and others after film-makers used AI to synthetically create a voiceover reading of an email by Bourdain himself.

In an interview with the New Yorker, the documentary’s director, Morgan Neville, said he had contacted a software company and provided about a dozen hours of recordings to generate an AI model of Bourdain’s voice.

“I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that,” Ottavia Bourdain tweeted after the documentary’s release.

Well, 2023 didn’t exactly go to plan, did it?

Here in the UK, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, had promised us a government of stability and competence – not forgetting professionalism, integrity and accountability – after the rollercoaster ride of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. Remember Liz? These days she seems like a long forgotten comedy act. Instead, Sunak took us even further through the looking-glass into the Conservative psychodrama.

Elsewhere, the picture has been no better. In the US, Donald Trump is now many people’s favourite to become president again. In Ukraine, the war has dragged on with no end in sight. The danger of the rest of the world getting battle fatigue and losing interest all too apparent. Then there is the war in the Middle East and not forgetting the climate crisis …

But a new year brings new hope. There are elections in many countries, including the UK and the US. We have to believe in change. That something better is possible. The Guardian will continue to cover events from all over the world and our reporting now feels especially important. But running a news gathering organisation doesn’t come cheap.

So this year, I am asking you – if you can afford it – to give money. Well, not to me personally – though you can if you like – but to the Guardian. By supporting the Guardian from just $2 per month, we will be able to continue our mission to pursue the truth in all corners of the world.

With your help, we can make our journalism free to everyone. You won’t ever find any of our news reports or comment pieces tucked away behind a paywall. We couldn’t do this without you. Unlike our politicians, when we say we are in this together we mean it.

Happy new year!

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