Keanu Reeves: Deepfake Digital Face Edits, Artificial Intelligence Are ‘A System of Control and Manipulation’

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MAY 14: Keanu Reeves arrives for his handprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX forecourt on May 14, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Hollywood star Keanu Reeves says deepfake digital face edits are “scary,” and confirmed that his film contracts ban digital edits to his acting. “It’s a system of control and manipulation,” the actor said of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

“What’s frustrating about [deepfakes] is you lose your agency,” Reeves told Wired in a recent interview. “When you give a performance in a film, you know you’re going to be edited, but you’re participating in that. If you go into deepfake land, it has none of your points of view. That’s scary.”

“It’s going to be interesting to see how humans deal with these technologies,” The Matrix star added. “They’re having such cultural, sociological impacts, and the species is being studied. There’s so much ‘data’ on behaviors now.”

Reeves also noted that he has a clause in his contracts, making it so that his performances can’t be manipulated “digitally” without his approval.

“I don’t mind if someone takes a blink out during an edit. But early on, in the early 2000s, or it might have been the ’90s, I had a performance changed,” the actor revealed, but did not disclose which performance he was talking about.

“They added a tear to my face, and I was just like, ‘Huh?!’ It was like, I don’t even have to be here,” Reeves said.

The John Wick star also recalled a time he was “trying to explain the plot of The Matrix to this 15-year-old” kid, and how “the character I played was really fighting for what was real.”

“And this young person was just like, ‘Who cares if it’s real?'” he said. “People are growing up with these tools: We’re listening to music already that’s made by AI in the style of Nirvana, there’s NFT digital art.”

“It’s cool, like, Look what the cute machines can make! But there’s a corporatocracy behind it that’s looking to control those things,” Reeves continued. “Culturally, socially, we’re gonna be confronted by the value of real, or the nonvalue. And then what’s going to be pushed on us? What’s going to be presented to us?”

“It’s this sensorium. It’s spectacle. And it’s a system of control and manipulation,” the actor added. “We’re on our knees looking at cave walls and seeing the projections, and we’re not having the chance to look behind us.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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