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Hollywood celebs are scared of deepfakes. This talent agency will use AI to fight them

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

As advancements in artificial intelligence proliferate, talent agencies are bulking up their defenses to protect Hollywood stars against misleading, manipulated images or videos that can put them at risk.

The rise of generative AI and "deepfakes" — or videos and pictures that use a person's image in a false way — has led to the wide proliferation of unauthorized clips that can damage celebrities' brands and businesses.

These clips purport to show famous people saying and doing things they never said or did. For example: fake nudes of a famous person, or videos crafted to make it look like a Hollywood star is endorsing a product they haven't actually used. And the problem is expected to grow.

Now there are technological tools that use AI to combat that threat, and the entertainment industry has come knocking.

Talent agency WME has inked a partnership with Loti, a Seattle-based firm that specializes in software used to flag unauthorized content posted on the internet that includes clients' likenesses. The company, which has 25 employees, then quickly sends requests to online platforms to have those infringing photos and videos removed.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

 

Artificial intelligence has been seen as both friend and foe in Hollywood — a tool that could potentially make processes more efficient and inspire new innovations, but is also seen as a job killer and yet another way for intellectual property to be stolen.

The need for better protections against AI played a central role in last summer's strikes by the Writers Guild of America and actors guild SAG-AFTRA. On Tuesday, the nonprofit Artist Rights Alliance posted an open letter to technology companies demanding that they "stop devaluing" their work, with signatures from 200 musicians including Billie Eilish and Elvis Costello. As deepfakes multiply, agencies are hoping to use AI to stop the bad actors online.

"The worst game of whack-a-mole you are going to play is dealing with the deepfake problem without a technology partner to help you," said Chris Jacquemin, WME partner and head of digital strategy.

Loti co-founder Luke Arrigoni launched the startup about a year and a half ago. He previously ran an artificial intelligence firm called Arricor AI and before that was a data scientist at Creative Artists Agency, WME's main rival.

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