‘Deepfakes’ of Celebrities Have Begun Appearing in Ads, With or Without Their Permission

Celebrity deepfakes are coming to advertising.

Among the recent entries: Last year, Russian telecommunications company MegaFon released a commercial in which a simulacrum of Hollywood legend Bruce Willis helps defuse a bomb.

And last month a promotional video for machine-learning firm Paperspace Co. showed talking semblances of the actors Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.

None of these celebrities ever spent a moment filming these campaigns. In the cases of Messrs. Musk, Cruise and DiCaprio, they never even agreed to endorse the companies in question.

All the videos of digital simulations were created with so-called deepfake technology, which uses computer-generated renditions to make the Hollywood and business notables say and do things they never actually said or did.

Some of the ads are broad parodies, and the meshing of the digital to the analog in the best of cases might not fool an alert viewer. Even so, the growing adoption of deepfake software could eventually shape the industry in profound ways while creating new legal and ethical questions, experts said.

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