The world is quickly becoming infused with artificial intelligence (AI), and while you may correctly think artists such as video game developers or logo designers would be affected by the rise in popularity of the new generative AI tools, so are comedians or at least their estates.
George Carlin, a widely regarded hall-of-fame member of the comedy world, was resurrected in the form of a new comedy special that its creators said was generated by AI. The new comedy special gained attention from the Carlin estate, which resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the podcast outlet Dudsey and its hosts Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, with the filing alleging the creators didn't have permission to use Carlin's likeness, nor have any license to use any of Carlin's copyrighted materials.
The special was originally posted on YouTube on January 9 and began with a voiceover that stated the special was created with an AI engine that listened to Carlin's entire library of comedy content. Additionally, the AI voiceover stated, "did my best to imitate his voice, cadence and attitude as well as the subject matter I think would have interested him today".
However, now the creators of the comedy special are back peddling away from that voiceover, with The New York Times reporting a spokesperson for Dudsey saying, "It's a fictional podcast character created by two human beings, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen. The YouTube video 'I'm Glad I'm Dead' was completely written by Chad Kultgen."
The comedy special, which has since been removed from the Dudsey YouTube channel per the lawsuit's demands, has since been reuploaded to many other YouTube channels. The full excerpt from the AI saying it was trained on Carlin's content can be found below. If that is proven to be true, the comedy special would be in full violation of Carlin's copyright. However, Kultgen is now saying the AI was actually him, and the comedy special was "completely written" by him. Both of those points seem to be what will be hotly debated between the respective lawyers.
Despite this admission from the creators, the lawsuit will continue to proceed as the Carlin estate lawyer Josh Schiller said, "We don't know what they're saying to be true," he said. "What we will know is that they will be deposed. They will produce documents, and there will be evidence that shows one way or another how the show was created."