University of Exeter: Technology, law and creative experts join forces to share experience of regulating AI and deepfakes

Artificial intelligence has broken new grounds in creating digital avatars of fictional characters and real-life individuals. Leading figures will share their experience on creating, sharing and regulating digital avatars and clones, and how they see this field develop in the future, at an online event this week.

The discussion is organised by researchers at the Centre for Science, Culture and the Law at the University of Exeter Law School and UKIPO. Those taking part will share insights on the opportunities and challenges from artificial intelligence and human synthetisation in creative industries, and the role intellectual property plays in supporting innovation and ethical practice.

The event opens with a keynote by Mike Seymour, a film and television director, visual effects specialist and researcher at the University of Sydney, reflecting on this work in generating deepfakes. The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion by industry and law experts on the opportunities and challenges raised by digital avatars generated with artificial intelligence.

Panelists include: Antonia Modkova, Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation for Soul Machines, an AI company developing lifelike and emotionally responsive avatars for AI platforms; Shannon Sailing, Audio and New Media Official, Equity; Mathilde Pavis, Researcher in Intellectual Property Law, University of Exeter and Margaret Haig, Head of Copyright Operations, UK Intellectual Property Office, has policy responsibility for copyright exceptions, including text and data mining.

Antonia is a patent attorney and lawyer, specialising in artificial intelligence. She is responsible for growing and managing the IP portfolios of Soul Machines, and serves on the ADLS Law and Technology committee.

Shannon represents union members who work across audio and new media, which stretches from voiceover, to artificial intelligence, games and beyond. Shannon is also the secretary to Equity’s Audio Committee whose current priorities include focussing on how artificial intelligence will affect the future of voice and campaigning where necessary to ensure performers rights are protected. Shannon is also part of group of international union representatives from other creative unions including SAG AFTRA to uphold the rights of performers as technology evolves.

Dr Pavis specialises in intellectual property law and contracts. She is an expert on the legal protection of individuals’ body, voice and likeness in digital media. Her work focuses on finding fair and equitable ways of generating, using and sharing digital avatars imitating real-life people.

Dr Pavis said: This is an exciting time to be discussing digital avatars and human synthetisation, and we are delighted to be co-hosting this event with the UK Intellectual Property Office. How we use and regulate digital avatars is top priority for policy-makers at the moment, not least in the fields of artificial intelligence, online communications and safeguarding, and Intellectual Property. People and policy-makers are acutely aware of the challenges that digital avatars, like deepfakes, can bring to our society. We are keen to find solutions to support ethical innovation in this space, and contain harmful uses of the technology.”

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