Deepfakes Are Never Going Away

Tom Hanks recently alerted fans (via Instagram) about an AI-generated version of himself being used without his consent to promote a dental plan: “I had nothing to do with it.” This incident underscores the broader challenges we all face with the rise of generative AI (one of the underlying technologies for deepfakes).

The likeness of Hanks, reportedly sourced from an image owned by the Los Angeles Times, is just one example of how easily recognizable faces can be co-opted for unintended purposes. Similarly, Zelda Williams (daughter of the late Robin Williams) has voiced her concerns about AI recreations of her father’s voice, describing them as either “a poor facsimile” or a “horrendous Frankensteinian monster.”

This issue isn’t new, but it’s newly relevant because the technology is becoming easier and easier to access. On one hand, AI offers unprecedented opportunities for creativity and innovation. On the other hand, it raises ethical and legal dilemmas about consent, authenticity, and the potential for misuse.

One of the big issues facing SAG/AFTRA members is the use of AI in professional productions. Regardless of what the terms of the new contract look like, this will be the last contract that requires productions to have human background actors (extras). It is already easy to create synthetic extras; by the time this new contract is up, it will be as easy as applying an Instagram filter.

Nothing will stop the technical innovations – and nothing should. What we need is regulatory and business rules innovators to match the pace of their tech innovator counterparts. I do not have high hopes.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it. This work was created with the assistance of various AI models, including but not limited to: GPT-4, Bard, Claude, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and others.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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