Kelly Carlin Declares War on A.I. Comedy

Carlin’s estate fights against ‘the ultimate zombification of a human life’
Kelly Carlin Declares War on A.I. Comedy

Kelly Carlin has had enough. And why not — imagine if your dead relative was brought “back to life” in the service of some clicks and social media attention? With so many planet-changing possibilities for artificial intelligence, why do some insist on using it to rob the graves of comedy heroes?

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Now Carlin is doing more than taking to social media to express her disgust. Her father’s estate is suing the producers behind a “comedy special” that used artificial intelligence to mimic the comedian’s writing style and even his voice. The A.I. bot admits to using decades of George Carlin’s material to develop sorry imitations of his jokes — without either consent or compensation. “We have to draw a line in the sand,” Kelly Carlin told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is going to be a fight on every front, with entertainment at the center.” 

The estate’s complaint asks for the immediate removal of the special from the YouTube channel of Dudsy, a podcast hosted by Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, along with unspecified damages. 

At least Dudsy A.I. is making it easy for the Carlin estate. While other lawsuits have had difficulty proving that A.I. bots used specific sources as data sets for their learning, Dudsy A.I. begins the atrocious George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead special with a damning explanation of how it developed an hour’s worth of off-key jokes: “I listened to all of George Carlin’s material,” it confessed, “and did my best to imitate his voice, cadence and attitude.” Guess who owns the copyrighted materials that Dudsy appropriated to create I’m Glad I’m Dead?

No one wants to hear about the First Amendment, a principle for which Carlin the comic often fought. That’s no defense, says the estate, noting the special “has no comedic or creative value absent its self-proclaimed connection with George Carlin” and makes zero effort to “satirize him as a performer or offer an independent critique of society.”

It’s extremely unlikely that Carlin will be the only late comic affected by this technology unless restrictions are put in place. In a tweet, Kelly Carlin warned Melissa Rivers, daughter of Joan, and Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin, that enterprising A.I. A-holes could come for their families next. “The irony of all of this is that my father was such a unique thinker,” Kelly Carlin told The Hollywood Reporter. “One thing he said to people is, ‘Think for yourself,’ and here are these people absorbing his material to try and think like him. It’s the ultimate zombification of a human life.”

As the lawsuit says, I’m Glad I’m Dead couldn’t be further from Carlin’s work. “It is a piece of computer-generated clickbait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation. It is a casual theft of a great American artist’s work.”


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