Is Ken Burns Taking Up Too Much Space? He Doesn’t Think So.

30m · August 2, 2021

Is Ken Burns Taking Up Too Much Space? He Doesn’t Think So.

From “deepfaking” Anthony Bourdain’s voice to reconstructing a re-education camp in Xinjiang — technologies like A.I. voice generation and V.R. are warping the boundaries of documentary filmmaking. So how does a veteran like Ken Burns, who has spent over 40 years documenting American history, think about the ethical questions attached to these tools? In this conversation, Kara Swisher learns why Burns was “very troubled” by the use of A.I. voice generation in a recent documentary about the late chef and food journalist Anthony Bourdain. She also asks him to respond to a public letter in March questioning PBS’s commitment to diversity and criticizing the network as having an “overreliance” on Burns and his films — which include his latest series on the boxer Muhammad Ali. Burns also explains why he considers Mark Zuckerberg an “enemy of the state.” You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

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