UpGrad Gets Schooled For Using AI-Generated Lookalike Of Google's Sundar Pichai

Indian edtech firm upGrad has drawn the ire of netizens after it used Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s name and likeness in an AI-generated ad campaign.

What Happened? The edtech company tweeted an image of a man with an uncanny resemblance to Pichai in a crowd of people at a railway station as part of its #SkipExcuses campaign. A quote in the image, attributed to Sundar P. reads: “I got a scholarship at Stanford but the travel cost too much so I didn't go.”

“Thankfully, the Sundar we know chose to #SkipExcuses and left his competition miles peeche,” the caption to the post says. However, reports suggest the final word in the campaign was changed from “Pichai” to “peeche”.

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UpGrad had subsequently included a disclaimer in the post that says, “This post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real events, real-life individuals/personalities or entities is purely coincidental. Viewer discretion is advised.” However, the striking resemblance to Pichai and the fact that he is an alumni of Stanford University have deepened the connection with the Google CEO.

The ad campaign has previously featured an image that shares a resemblance to scientist Albert Einstein.

Online Uproar: Twitter users were mostly up in arms about the ad, with many asking whether it was ethical to use Pichai’s likeness and name without his consent and whether he was aware of the same.

Some deemed the ad “cringeworthy” and questioned the leadership involved in the campaign.

Notably, the ethics around using AI was a big conversation point last month at Google I/O 2023, the company’s annula developer conference.

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