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July 19, 2021
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Bourdain’s voice

I still miss Anthony Bourdain very much. See this and this.

I was somewhat excited to learn that a documentary about him was being made. The only thing that kept me from full-on excitement was that I still haven’t been able to bring myself to rewatch all of his episodes. And I’ve been wanting to for a few years. But I just can’t do it yet.

But then comes the news that the director of the film used AI to synthesize Bourdain’s voice for 3 different parts of the film. Which, on the face of it, doesn’t seem terrible since the words he had the AI say were, in fact, Bourdain’s own words. But then comes the off-the-cuff comment from the director “We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”.

Immediately after reading that sentence my stomach turned a bit.

But interviews, such as they are, are rarely good representations about what someone really said in context. So maybe the flippant statement wasn’t said in a flippant way. But then the director doubled down and said he had checked in with many people involved and got their OK for using Bourdain’s synthesized voice in the film. And then this tweet from Bourdain’s ex-wife happens.

Ugh.

All I can say is that the story about this film is now going to be about this AI business and that stinks. It should have been about Tony.

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