Marilyn Monroe Digitally Resurrected Without Consent by AI

The ongoing debate about using digital replicas of celebrities without their approval, either posthumously or while they are alive, continues to draw criticism. Zelda Williams, well-known as the Lisa Frankenstein director and daughter of comedy star Robin Williams, has previously voiced her opposition to the unnerving trend of recreating the deceased. Her concerns were echoed by actors demanding increased safeguards against possible exploitation by studios employing AI clones. However, despite these notable ethical worries, firms are persisting with the trend.

The most recent example of this is Soul Machines, a company known for creating Biological AI-powered Digital People. The firm has unveiled “Digital Marilyn,” an AI chatbot modeled after iconic actress Marilyn Monroe and capable of speaking like her. The unveiling happened at the SXSW event on Friday in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, who hold the rights to the images of numerous celebrities, both living and deceased, including Elvis Presley and Shaq.

Soul Machines’ Digital Marilyn, which uses GPT 3.5 technology, is touted as being “hyper-real” and able to react with “emotions and nuanced expressions”. According to a company press release, the AI bot can carry on almost a 20-minute conversation. In a blog post, Soul Machines claims that Digital Marilyn can hold “natural, dynamic conversations”, promising to provide a “unique and deeply personal connection” for both fans and newcomers.

The company also promotes its AI versions of celebrities as a means for them to maintain round-the-clock engagement with fans without limitations. However, it’s noteworthy that all the currently available AI celebrities—Mark Tuan, Francis Ngannou and Jack Nicklaus—are still alive and could have commented on their involvement. The Marilyn Monroe AI was unveiled to the public via an Instagram post for International Women’s Day, a peculiar move considering the subject of the AI’s likeness is a deceased female celebrity who didn’t have the chance to give consent to the use of her image.