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Scarlett Johansson ‘shocked’ and ‘angered’ that ChatGPT’s new voice feature sounded so much like her

OpenAI’s ChatGPT finds itself in a challenging situation following a recent incident involving the multi-awarded actress, Scarlett Johansson.

The controversy began when OpenAI introduced a new feature in ChatGPT, enabling the AI to deliver its responses using five different voices. It didn’t take long for users to notice that one of these voices, called Sky, bore an uncanny resemblance to Scarlett Johansson’s voice.

According to the actress, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, reached out to her just December last year to ask if she could be a voice to the current ChatGPT 4.0 system, citing that Scarlett’s voice “could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI,” and would provide “comfort” to its users. However, Johansson declined the offer, stating that “after much consideration and for personal reasons,” she chose not to participate.

Believing the matter was resolved, the actress was deeply frustrated when she heard the released demo of the new ChatGPT feature. The similarity of the AI-generated voice to her own was just simply hard to ignore.

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered, and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that even my closest friends and news outlets couldn’t tell the difference,” Johansson said in her statement.

OpenAI has responded to the controversy, emphasizing that the resemblance was purely coincidental and unintentional.

“The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” said Mr Altman.

“We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms Johansson.”

Many, including the actress, were skeptical, especially when Sam Altman posted a single word on 14th-May (based on Philippine Standard Time) , “her,” on X (formerly Twitter), on the same day the new voice feature of ChatGPT was released. This was particularly intriguing since the actress had previously voiced Samantha, a chat system that forms an intimate relationship with a human, in the film titled “Her.”

As a defense, the actress’s legal representatives sent a letter to the tech giant requesting a comprehensive explanation of the process involved in developing ‘Sky’ voice.

Earlier on Monday, the company announced that it would “pause” the use of the Sky voice as they address the issues surrounding this matter.

This controversy comes on the heels of another legal challenge for OpenAI. In December of last year, OpenAI ChatGPT and its leading investor, Microsoft, faced a lawsuit from The New York Times over copyright infringement. The lawsuit alleges that millions of articles from the Times were used to develop these AI tools, which compete with the newspaper’s own content and threaten its ability to sustain quality journalism.

On May 19, OpenAI released a blog post titled “How the voices for ChatGPT were chosen,” and made it clear that Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson.

“We support the creative community and worked closely with the voice acting industry to ensure we took the right steps to cast ChatGPT’s voices. Each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our product,” they stated.

“We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice—Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice. To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents,” the post continued.

These recent cases emphasize the necessity for the company to address ethical processes as it continues to enhance artificial intelligence, which is certainly gaining traction in this ever-changing world.


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