The TIME AI 100 list is hot off the press. Among the tech titans stands Charlie Brooker, the man who represented a different view of the technologies developed in Silicon Valley. The 52-year-old exceptional author is often praised for his eerily written Netflix series “Black Mirror”. Since its UK premiere in 2011, Brooker has continued to shatter the rose-colored glasses through which we have long worshiped technology – since Meta was Facebook and X was Twitter. He asked us: What if this whole machine circus wasn’t a blessing but a curse?

Ever since Brooker’s worst-case scenario lens emerged, he has managed to predict the future horribly correctly over and over again. The debut episode of the latest season takes a look at how people struggle with dealing with their digital alter egos. The phenomenon became the poster child of the Hollywood writers’ strike, sparked by fears that ChatGPT, AI’s love child, would deprive writers of their livelihoods.

The striking authors are grappling with another pressing question: How are we doing? regulate these AI-generated doppelgangers?

Back to Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1 introduces us to Joan, a tech executive whose life becomes a biographical drama on a Netflix-like platform called Streamberry, portrayed by none other than Salma Hayek. While the idea of ​​a celebrity living in your shoes may sound tempting, it’s anything but for Joan. Every day she is haunted by her own actions and those of Hayek, revealing her daily shenanigans and regrettable decisions.

Things go downhill from there when she realizes that Hayek, who plays Joan on screen, is an AI-generated replica of the actress who sold the rights to use her face to the company behind the show.

Joan-esque Hollywood

Enter Soul Machines, a company that could make this dystopia a reality. A 2021 report from The Verge revealed that this classic Black Mirror company, co-founded by Greg Cross, primarily creates harmless customer service avatars.

Similar to Hayek in Brooker’s Netflix universe, Soul Machines has digitized NBA and K-pop icons, according to their website. The Information even reported that “many stars and agents are quietly holding meetings with AI companies to explore their options.” While the company is opening up new ways to monetize celebrity likenesses, it’s also putting it at risk to its brand to harm.

Echoes of the futuristic past

Recently, AI tools have begun to mimic both famous and historical figures, and the parallel timeline in Black Mirror feels closer than ever before.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents over 160,000 actors, warns that generative AI and technologies alike could result in “main and background actors at risk of having the majority of their work replaced by digital replicas.”

The pipe dreams of hyper-personalized content tailored to individual tastes generated by AI are not far off. Superstar Jennifer Lopez’s digital twin is already promoting cruise commercials by mimicking her voice and looks. The campaign boosted bookings while raising concerns about abuse. While JLo’s team has taken precautions, the company has used deepfakes extensively.

Often, Black Mirror’s storylines seem to predict some of the more sinister developments in the Bay Area. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future there will be a Joan who reads an article on AIM about an episode called “Joan Is Awful,” only to have it turn into the “Joan Is Awful” scene – reflecting the world’s obsession with being digitally reflects real.

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