Deepfakes, Virtual Reality, VR, Robots, Appropriation of Personality, Publicity Rights, Privacy, Image Rights
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies have destabilized our ability to control our identity. Today, it is increasingly accessible for the average person to appropriate the voice, image, and body of another individual through the use of technology. Deepfake videos swap new faces into existing videos, facial re-enactment allows for the face of one person to be superimposed on the face of someone else in a real time video, artificial speech synthesis can clone another person’s voice, and 3D printing and modern robotics can reproduce life-size copies of living people. These are all examples of the ways technology is being used to replicate aspects of people’s identity, sometimes without their consent. Once limited to the hands of computer-generated image specialists and robotics professionals, the barriers to accessing these technologies are quickly being removed. By scrapping audio-visual data from digitally available sources or purchasing robotics parts on the global marketplace, even hobbyists and amateurs are able to experiment with many of these technologies and create content representing another person. While many of these technologies are in their infancy and are not yet successfully producing perfect replicas, there have already been examples wherein this technology has produced convincing copies of aspects of the targeted individual that have effectively fooled other people.10 As these technologies become more user friendly, less expensive, and produce more realistic content, it is imperative that we explore the law’s role in protecting an individual’s identity from these types of identity manipulation.
To explore these issues, this paper will first discuss why an individual’s identity, particularly representations of their image and voice, are increasingly relevant in our current society. Second, it will cover some existing technologies to illustrate the ways that identities are being manipulated through artificial intelligence and robotics, and highlight some aspects of their production that may be relevant when applying legal protections. Third, it will explore the economically focused torts of appropriation of personality and publicity rights in common law Canada and the United States, respectively, as well as dignity focused personality and image rights in the civil law systems of Germany and Québec. Fourth, it will argue that legal solutions to identity violations should include more of a dignity focused approach that takes a broad understanding of identity to protect people’s identities from being harmed by misuses of this technology.
Suzie Dunn, "Identity Manipulation: Responding to Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics" (Paper delivered at WeRobot, Ottawa, 2 April 2020) [unpublished].