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Tom Hanks Warns Fans That He's Being Impersonated by AI: "BEWARE!!"

The actor let fans know that he has "nothing to do" with an ad using his likeness.

If you see a celebrity doing something that seems out of the ordinary online, more than ever, it's prudent to be suspicious that it's really them. Due to the advancement and increased availability of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, images of people—celebrities and non-celebrities alike—can be altered to make them appear that they're in situations that they were never in. Just ask Tom Hanks. The actor recently warned fans about a promotional video for a business he has nothing to do with that features an AI-generated version of him. "BEWARE!!," the Sleepless in Seattle star cautioned about the false advertising.

Read on to find out more about the AI impersonation of Hanks, what he told fans about it, and the ongoing fight in Hollywood regarding the use of such technology.

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Hanks warned his fans on Instagram.

In an Instagram post on Oct. 1, Hanks shared a screenshot from a video featuring an AI-generated version of himself with a message of warning over it. "BEWARE!! There's a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me," the Oscar-winning actor wrote. "I have nothing to do with it."

Hanks did not share any details about the dental plan or the company behind it.

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He has concerns about how AI can be used.

Tom Hanks at a photocall for "A Man Called Otto" in 2022
Fred Duval / Shutterstock

As reported by The Guardian, during an appearance on The Adam Buxton Podcast recorded in April, Hanks gave his thoughts about the use of AI, particularly in the media and with public figures.

"I can tell you that there [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice—and everybody else's—being our intellectual property," he said. The Asteroid City star added that he "could be hit by a bus tomorrow … but performances can go on and on and on and on."

He continued, "And outside of the understanding that it's been done with AI or deepfake, there'll be nothing to tell you that it's not me and me alone. And it's going to have some degree of lifelike quality. That's certainly an artistic challenge, but it's also a legal one." ("Deepfake" refers to content in which technology has been used to make it look like someone is doing something they never did.)

Unions have been fighting for protections against AI.

People picketing for SAG-AFTRA in New York City
Joe Tabacca / Shutterstock

As Hanks mentioned on the podcast, entertainment guilds are seeking protections for their members when it comes to AI technology. One of the negotiating factors in the recently ended Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike had to do with AI. As of Sept. 27, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have a new contract, which helps protect writers when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence in written material. One such safeguard is that companies have to inform writers about any AI usage, as reported by Entertainment Weekly.

Similarly, AI protections are part of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, in which the actors' union and AMPTP are attempting to reach a deal.

"SAG-AFTRA maintains that the right to digitally replicate a performer's voice or likeness to substantially manipulate a performance, or to create a new digital performance, is a mandatory subject of bargaining," reads a statement from SAG-AFTRA General Counsel Jeffrey Bennett. "In addition, the use of performer's voice, likeness or performance to train an artificial intelligence system designed to generate new visual, audio, or audiovisual content is a mandatory subject of bargaining."

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Some of Hanks' movies have used AI.

Tom Hanks at 2023 MusiCares Persons of the Year
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Hanks is concerned about having his likeness used without his permission, but he isn't against the ethical use of similar technology or other technological advancements in film—so long as he's involved in the process. For the 2004 movie The Polar Express, motion capture animation allowed filmmakers to use Hanks' performance to create multiple characters. In the 2022 film A Man Called Otto, digital de-aging technology was used on Hanks to allow him to play the younger version of his character in some scenes.

The star is also signed on for the upcoming movie Here, which will also utilize de-aging AI, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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