BBC replaces actress with AI

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The BBC's decision to replace actress Sara Poyzer with artificial intelligence (AI) for an upcoming project has sparked a significant debate and controversy within the UK's acting community and beyond. Sara Poyzer, known for her role in the stage production of "Mamma Mia!" for over a decade, shared a screenshot of an email from the production team of an unspecified BBC project. The email informed her that her services were no longer required as the BBC had approved the use of an AI-generated voice for the project1234. The BBC later clarified that the use of AI was for a "highly sensitive documentary" featuring a contributor who is nearing the end of life and is now unable to speak. The decision to use AI was made with the family's wishes in mind, aiming to recreate the voice of the contributor for a brief section of the documentary. This use of AI will be clearly labeled within the film134. The news of Poyzer's replacement by AI has led to a broader discussion about the implications of AI in the creative industries, particularly for actors and voice artists. Miltos Yerolemou, an actor known for his role in "Game of Thrones," expressed concern over the trend, suggesting it's time for British actors and creatives to resist the use of AI in their industry1. Similarly, Voice Squad, Poyzer's voiceover agency, expressed disappointment with the BBC's decision, highlighting the potential dangers of AI to the industry and the devaluation of skilled actors' work12. The incident has also reignited discussions about the ethical and practical considerations of using AI in media production. The BBC had previously stated its principles regarding AI use, emphasizing that it would not compromise human creative control and would support rights holders while maintaining editorial standards12. However, the decision to replace Poyzer with AI has raised questions about the balance between technological advancement and the preservation of human creativity and employment in the arts. This situation reflects the ongoing debate within the entertainment industry about the role of AI, mirroring concerns raised during the SAG-AFTRA actors' strike in Hollywood. The strike focused on ensuring actors receive compensation and consent for the use of their likenesses and performances by AI, highlighting the need for clear guidelines and protections for creative professionals in the age of digital technology2.
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