In 1967, The Beatles famously sang the lyrics "I get by with a little help from my friends." In 2023, Paul McCartney will get by with a little help from artificial intelligence.
McCartney, one of the only two surviving members of the Beatles, told BBC this week that he's worked with AI to help create what he calls "the final Beatles record."
He explained the technology had been used to "extricate" John Lennon's voice from an old demo so he could complete the song. Lennon was assassinated in 1980. McCartney, 80, did not offer the name of the song but said it will be released this year.
Fans speculate the song could be a 1978 Lennon composition called Now and Then which was part of a series of cassettes labeled “For Paul” that Lennon made shortly before his death and were later given to McCartney by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow.
Is reviving deceased celebrities through AI becoming common?
McCartney is not the first famous person to employ AI to bring back voices of those who have passed away. In Israel, two deceased singers were brought together to collaborate on a new song for Israel’s 75th Independence Day. The song “Here Forever” (“Kan L’Olam”) is performed by Ofra Haza and Zohar Argov, two famous singers who died in 2000 and 1987, respectively, thanks to the technological wizardry of Israel-based music-tech company Session 42. As of April, the song has been issued to Israeli radio stations and was trending at #16 on Shazam.
Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks said on an episode of The Adam Buxton Podcast released last month that the power of AI will play a significant role in the future of filmmaking and that fans should expect to see him on the big screen even after he passes away.
"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 in order to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice — and everybody else's — being our intellectual property," he said. "What is a bona fide possibility right now, if I wanted to, [is] 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 deep fake technology… I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that's it, but my performances can go on and on and on," Hanks said. "Outside of the understanding that it's been done by AI or deep fake, 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."
Zachy Hennessy contributed to this report.