Tom Hanks calls out dental ad for using AI likeness of him

Tom Hanks posted a warning on Instagram, stating he had "nothing to do" with the video.

Gonzalo Fuentes / reuters

An advertiser reportedly used a deepfake of Tom Hanks to promote dental plans without the actor’s permission. Hanks shared a warning on Instagram on Sunday alerting his followers about the AI-generated video, which he wrote he had “nothing to do with.” Hanks has been outspoken about the challenges AI poses for the industry, and the use of actors’ digital likenesses is one of the major points of concern voiced by striking SAG-AFTRA workers.

Just last spring, Hanks said in an appearance on The Adam Buxton Podcast that AI and deepfakes present both artistic and legal challenges. “I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s it,” Hanks said, “but my performances can go on and on and on and on and on, 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.” He also spoke of a hypothetical scenario in which an entire movie series could be made using an AI version of him that’s “32 years old from now until kingdom come.” Perhaps in confirmation of what's to come, the offending dental plan ad depicts a significantly younger Hanks.

The use of AI to capitalize on celebrities’ legacies has already become an ethical issue. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain sparked widespread debate upon its release after it was revealed the documentary contained AI-generated voice overs of the beloved chef and storyteller. Just this weekend, Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams, posted in support of “SAG’s fight against AI,” writing on Instagram that she’d seen firsthand how the technology is used to capture the likeness of people “who cannot consent,” like her father.

“These recreations are, at their very best, a poor facsimile of greater people,” Williams wrote, “but at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”

Hanks said in the April interview that the issue has been on his radar since filming The Polar Express in the early 2000s, which starred a CGI version of the actor. It was “the first time that we did a movie that had a huge amount of our own data locked in a computer,” Hanks told Buxton, adding, “We saw this coming.”