The family of a man known for his unique, pessimistic and humorous outlook on society is taking two podcasters to court for using AI to revive him for a comedy special.
George Carlin’s family filed a lawsuit against the Dudesy podcast hosts Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen in California’s federal court on Thursday. The lawsuit is based on the podcasters’ role in training AI to impersonate the late comedian in an hour-long special titled, “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead.”
Carlin’s AI bot started the special by saying, “I would like to start with a heartfelt apology. I’m sorry it took me so long to come up with new material, but I do have a pretty good excuse. I was dead!”
Carlin’s family described the impersonation as “ghoulish.” They seek a court order to have the special taken down from the web. The podcasters have removed the post from their YouTube channel but you can still find the audio online from others.
Dudesy is an AI-generated host that chats with Sasso and Kultgen during their show. The two will not reveal who or what created it because they signed a non-disclosure agreement.
“The defendants’ AI-generated ‘George Carlin special’ is not a creative work,” the lawsuit read. “It is a piece of computer-generated clickbait which detracts from the value of Carlin’s comedic works and harms his reputation.”
Carlin’s daughter Kelly says the family was never contacted or asked permission before the special’s release.
My statement regarding the AI generated George Carlin special: My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius. These AI generated products are clever attempts at trying to recreate a mind…1/3
— Kelly Carlin (@kelly_carlin) January 11, 2024
AI program responsible studied 50 years of Carlin
Dudesy and its organic accomplices allegedly trained the AI bot responsible for the special with five decades of Carlin’s comedic material. The lawsuit claims that they put thousands of hours worth of Carlin’s original copyrighted routines into the program.
“In short, defendants sought to capitalize on the name, reputation and likeness of George Carlin in creating, promoting and distributing the Dudesy special,” the lawsuit says. “They used generated images of Carlin, his voice, and images designed to evoke Carlin’s presence on a stage.”
However, despite using Carlin’s voice and other content for the special, a legal representative for the podcast hosts has now claimed that the special was human-written and not scripted by a machine.
“The YouTube video ‘I’m Glad I’m Dead’ was completely written by Chad Kultgen,” Danielle Del, a spokesperson for the defendants, told Wired.
Legal disputes involving AI-created content are expected to become a prevalent trend in the coming years as the technology evolves.
George Carlin was born in New York City in 1937 and passed away in California from heart failure in 2008 at the age of 71. He was well-known for his disgust with American culture and dark sense of humour.
“The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it,” Carlin once said.