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Deepfake row erupts after new Anthony Bourdain documentary


The new phenomenon of ‘deepfaking’ is perhaps one of the strangest and most troubling technological developments since the dawn of the internet. It gives anyone willing to put in the time, the capabilities to stick anyone’s face onto the figure of another. It has already led to several controversial cases, bringing up some morally twisted arguments about identity protection online. 

The latest scandal to come out about the technology is a high-profile one, with Anthony Bourdain’s widow claiming she didn’t give permission for filmmakers to use a deepfake of the late chef’s voice in a new documentary, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.

Despite having separated from Bourdain in 2016, Ottavia Busia remained married to the famous chef at the time of his death two years later and made it clear that her late husband would not have been happy with the portrayal. Using A.I. to recreate Bourdain’s voice in the feature film, director Morgan Neville claimed that his wishes to use deepfake technology were granted by the Bourdain estate, stating that, ““I checked, you know, with his widow and his literary executor, just to make sure people were cool with that. And they were like, Tony would have been cool with that”. 

Meanwhile, Ottavia Busia claims that “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that”. The argument has since caught fire online with multiple critics pointing at the ethical implications of using deepfake technology, with many calling for a sincere revaluation of how artists and their work are treated after their death. 

Whether or not an agreement may be reached between Ottavia Busia and the documentary’s producer, CNN films can be reached, you feel as if this dispute may simply be the first of many to come.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is currently out now in the USA, with a release yet to be announced in Europe.