‘Yellowstone’ star Lainey Wilson testifies AI using her voice was ‘gut punch’: ‘It is a personal violation’

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Lainey Wilson testified in front of congress during a hearing regarding artificial intelligence and intellectual property on Friday.

Wilson shared her experience as a “victim” of AI. The hearing began with an example of Johnny Cash’s voice used to sing the lyrics of “Barbie Girl” to the tune of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Many artists are now seeing their voices used to create music and other content without their consent, according to Wilson. This AI-generated content used their voices in “questionable settings” or to sing lyrics “they would never write.”

“I use my music and my voice to tell stories, to connect to my fans and to help them to connect to each other. My art is uniquely and literally me, my name, my likeness, my voice,” she said.I do not have to tell you how much of a gut punch it is to have your name, your likeness or your voice ripped from you and used in ways that you could never imagine or would never allow. It is wrong, plain and simple.”

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Lainey Wilson on stage

Lainey Wilson testified in front of congress on Friday. (Getty Images)

“There aren’t many things that we can control in life, but making decisions about the use of our own selves, our own unique qualities, that should be one,” Wilson continued. “I am excited about a lot of ways that artificial intelligence can be used to help people, but I’m nervous about how it can be used to take personal rights.”

The “Yellowstone” star emphasized that musicians should have a “choice” in allowing AI platforms to use their voice to create new content. According to Wilson, her likeness has been used to promote weight-loss gummies. As an artist with young fans, she insisted that she would never promote that product.

“I’ve got a lot of little kids watching me, a lot of little girls and a lot of little boys. And I want to encourage them to feel comfortable in their own skin and love themselves. And I would never in a million years ever do anything like that,” she told the committee. “But at the end of the day, you know, people are like, ‘I got to see it to believe it.’ Well, they’re seeing it, and they’re believing it.”

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Lainey Wilson attends The Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security (ELVIS) act press conference

Lainey Wilson claimed her likeness was used to promote weight-loss gummies without her consent.  (Getty Images)

“Some creators are okay with AI platforms using their voices and likenesses, and some are not. The important thing is that it should be their choice and not a choice that an AI cloning company gets to make for them,” Wilson explained. “AI-generated music and video using an artist’s unique identity to perform in questionable settings or to sing lyrics that they would never write or express that does not truly reflect who they are is unacceptable.”

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“It is a personal violation that threatens a person’s dignity and can put at risk everything that they have worked so hard to accomplish,” she continued. “An artist’s voice and likeness are their property and should not take a backseat to the economic interest of companies that have not invested in or partnered with the artist.”

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Lainey Wilson

Lainey Wilson at the 2023 CMA Awards. (Getty Images)

While Wilson spoke mostly about the experience of music artists and AI-generated materials, she also touched on how AI has affected everyone – not just celebrities.

“It’s not just artists who need protection, and the fans need it too. It’s needed for high school girls who have experienced life-altering deepfake porn using their faces. For elderly citizens convinced to hand over their life savings by a vocal clone of their grandchild in trouble, AI increasingly affects every single one of us, and I’m so grateful that you are considering taking action to ensure that these tools are used in a responsible way.”

The 31-year-old singer-songwriter is gearing up for the Grammys, which will take place Sunday. Wilson received nominations for best country album and best country duo/group performance for her collaboration with Jelly Roll, “Save Me.”

Lainey Wilson 2023 CMAs

Lainey Wilson was nominated for the 2024 Grammys. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Variety)

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