Scarlett Johansson Takes on OpenAI Over AI Mimic Voice

AI was a contentious topic in the world of Hollywood during the recent writers’ and actors’ strikes. And it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon. The latest issue on the table involves Scarlett Johansson and an AI voice that sounded suspiciously like hers on a ChatGPT 4.0 demo. Johansson notes that she was invited to lend her voice to the OpenAI project, but declined. She was then shocked to hear a very similar voice on the platform. OpenAI has since removed the Johannson AI voice dupe named “Sky.” However, the company maintains they did not cross any lines.

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Marvel Studios

Below you can read Scarlett Johansson’s full statement on the matter and OpenAI’s response.

Johannson shares:

Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people.
After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer. Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named “Sky” sounded like me.

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 my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference. Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word “her” – a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.

Two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, Mr. Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there.

As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the “Sky” voice. Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the “Sky” voice.

In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.

As mentioned, OpenAI did remove the Scarlett Johansson-like AI voice, Sky. But the company noted that while it “believe[s] 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.”

This is likely only the beginning of similar AI battles to come.

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