Musician FKA Twigs Tells Congress She Created Her Own AI Deepfake

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Artificial intelligence was again the hot topic of the day in Washington D.C., as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from the music industry, unions, and academia about the risks presented by generative AI. The session focused largely on AI-powered digital replicas and deepfakes—with one musician sharing her own experiences with the tech.

Copyright and free speech protections were also central themes covered by a variety of guests, including Robert Kyncl, CEO of Warner Music Group, SAG-AFTRA director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, University of San Diego School of Law professor Lisa Ramsey, Digital Media Association (DiMA) CEO Graham Davis, and former NBC Universal senior counsel Ben Sheffner.

British actor and musician “FKA Twigs,” whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, spoke first-hand about how AI could affect artists.

“We dedicate a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice in the pursuit of excellence—not only in the expectation of achieving commercial success and critical acclaim, but also in the hope of creating a body of work and reputation that is our legacy,” FKA Twigs told the committee. “I’m here because my music, my dancing, my acting, the way my body moves in front of the camera, and the way that my voice resonates for a microphone is not by chance. They are essential reflections of who I am.”

FKA Twigs, 36, will star in the upcoming 2024 reboot of “The Crow.” She emphasized the hard work that goes into perfecting an artist’s craft, aiming to create a sustaining foundation and a lasting legacy, and not just fame.

“Let me be clear, I am not against AI,” she said. “As a future-facing artist, new technologies are an exciting tool that can be used to express deeper emotions, create fantasy worlds, and touch the hearts of many people.”

FKA Twigs then told the committee that she created a digital replica of herself.

“In the past year, I have developed my own deepfake version of myself that is not only trained in my personality, but that can also use my exact tone of voice to speak many languages,” she said, noting that it can help her reach a more global fanbase and hone her marketing while she focuses on her craft.

“This, however, is all under my control, and I can grant or refuse consent in a way that is meaningful,” she noted.

Consent and fair compensation were key factors in the SAG-AFTRA strike. Earlier this month, the actors’ union inked a deal with key players in the music industry that limits the use of AI with actors’ voices by record labels.

“What is not acceptable is when my art and my identity can simply be taken by a third party and exploited falsely for their own gain without my consent due to the absence of appropriate legislative control and restriction,” FKA Twigs added.

In October, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the “No Fakes Act,” aiming to outlaw the creation of AI-generated likenesses without consent. This legislation responds to concerns about AI’s use in mimicking individuals in media, highlighted by an unauthorized AI-generated song featuring Drake and The Weeknd.

While many in the entertainment industry have called out AI creators for stealing their vocals and stylings, some artists have embraced the technology, including electronic musician Grimes, who, in 2023, encouraged fans to create an AI-generated version of her voice, with a 50% royalty.

In November, the Beatles used AI to resurrect John Lennon and George Harrison to join Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in completing their final album, “Now and Then.” In an interview with Decrypt earlier this month, Avenged Sevenfold frontman Matt Sanders said in 20 years people won’t even care whether music was made with AI.

For FKA Twigs, however, the key point is protecting the legacy she spent years creating through her music.

“What it boils down to is my spirit, my art—my brand is my brand,” she said. “I’ve spent years developing it, and it’s mine… it doesn’t belong to anybody else for it to be used in a commercial sense or cultural sense, or even just for a laugh.”

“I am me, I am a human being,” she continued. “And we have to protect that.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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