Tom Hanks says AI version of him used in dental plan ad without his consent

Tom Hanks has warned fans that an ad for a dental plan that appears to use his image is in fact fake and was created using artificial intelligence.

In a message posted to his 9.5 million Instagram followers, the actor said his image was used without his permission. “BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it,” Hanks wrote over a screenshot of a computer-generated image of himself from the clip.

The Oscar winner has expressed concerns in the past about the use of AI in film and TV, although he has not shied away from approving digitally altered versions of himself in film.

The 2004 computer-animated Christmas fantasy The Polar Express featured a CGI version of Hanks. He was also de-aged in scenes in 2022 film A Man Called Otto.

Speaking with British comedian Adam Buxton on his podcast on 18 April, just days before the start of the Hollywood writers’ strike, Hanks said of AI: “We saw this coming. We saw that there was going to be this ability to take zeros and ones inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character. Now that has only grown a billionfold since then, and we see it everywhere.

“I can tell you that there [are] discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies, and all of the legal firms to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice – and everybody else’s – being our intellectual property.

“Right now if I wanted to, I could get together and pitch a series of seven movies that would star me in them in which I would be 32 years old from now until kingdom come. Anybody can now recreate themselves at any age they are by way of AI or deepfake technology.”

Hanks told Buxton that AI could allow a fake version of him to continue acting in perpetuity.

“I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and that’s it, but performances can go on and on and on and on. And outside of the understanding that it’s been done with AI or deepfake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone. And it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality. That’s certainly an artistic challenge, but it’s also a legal one.”

The US writers’ strike ended last week, with one of the major sticking points being concerns that unchecked AI could undermine the work of creatives. The Writers Guild of America approved an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television that features restrictions on how AI can be used in film and TV.

However Sag-Aftra – the union representing Hollywood actors – remains on strike, meaning most productions cannot resume. The actors’ strike began a few months after the writers’ strike, with pay, as well as concern over the use of AI in generating unapproved likenesses of actors, at the heart of the dispute. There are hopes the writers’ deal could help usher in a resolution to the Hollywood actors’ strike.

In the Robert Zemeckis-directed film Here, set for release next year, Tom Hanks will play younger versions of his character using a tool from Metaphysic. The AI company said it can create “high-resolution photorealistic faceswaps and de-ageing effects on top of actors’ performances live and in real time without the need for further compositing or VFX work”.