Chinese vlogger sparks outrage for using AI to ‘resurrect’ Coco Lee, Godfrey Gao


A Chinese vlogger has sparked outrage among Chinese social media users by posting videos featuring the late Chinese American singer Coco Lee and Taiwanese Canadian actor Godfrey Gao, who were “resurrected” using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Key points:

  • The videos, uploaded and later circulated on Chinese social media on Wednesday, show Coco Lee and Godfrey Gao addressing their viewers, with the late singer’s AI avatar telling her fans, “Through this video, I have the opportunity to be reunited with all of you. Since the moment I left this world, I have always been able to sense your endless love and support.”

  • When questioned about infringing on the late celebrities’ rights, the vlogger reportedly claimed that what they did was not imitation but “an expression of love for Coco,” adding that the videos were AI generated and free.

The details:

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  • Lee died in Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong, on July 5, 2023, after falling into a coma following a suicide attempt in her home. She was 48 years old.

  • Meanwhile, Gao died while filming Zhejiang Television’s competitive sports reality show “Chase Me” on Nov. 27, 2019. Doctors suggested that the actor’s death could be the result of overwork and stress. He was 35 years old.

  • The video sparked legal discussions about the usage of a deceased person’s likeness in an AI video, with one lawyer from China stating that the video infringed on Lee's rights by incorporating the likeness of her image, voice, name and reputation. The lawyer added that relatives of the deceased could pursue legal remedies against the other party.

  • Another lawyer pointed out that using someone’s likeness in a video could potentially constitute an infringement, whether the intention was for commercial purposes or not. In the case of Lee’s video, while the vlogger stated that the video was free, it could reportedly be argued that they used the video to attract business, as the people behind it are purportedly offering services to digitally bring back the deceased using AI for a fee of 588 yuan ($83).

  • Many Weibo users were outraged by the video, as one user wrote under Pear Video’s repost, “Please stop this farce, let the deceased rest in peace and also prevent their loved ones from being saddened by this.” Another user replied, “Indeed, let's stop exploiting the deceased. AI should not be used in this way.”

The big picture:

  • Bringing back the dead through AI has reportedly become an increasingly popular service in e-commerce platforms in China, with several shops offering competitive prices for such services, ranging from 10 to 500 yuan ($1 to $70), depending on the type and complexity of the orders.

  • Taiwanese musician Tino Bao made headlines recently for utilizing AI to digitally recreate his deceased daughter for her mother’s birthday.


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