An AI program on ChatGPT’s upcoming voice mode raises concerns about its similarity to Scarlett Johansson’s voice, and the actress responded.

Update: Scarlett Johansson has reacted to the AI voice in OpenAI’s ChatGPT system, saying she was “shocked” and “angered” by how closely the voice resembled her own. She also revealed that the company had actually wanted to hire her to voice the chatbot last year, but she turned down the offer, making it all the more suspicious when the final voice sounded so much like her.

You can read Johansson’s full statement below:

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 Al. 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 OpenAl, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice. Consequently, OpenAl 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.

— Original article follows —

Scarlett Johansson played the role of an AI voice in Spike Jonze’s prophetic 2013 film Her. In the film, the program, Samantha, is a digital assistant to Joaquin Phoenix’s character who holds realistic call-and-response conversations with him despite only existing through his computer operating systems. As AI technology continues to grow at an immeasurable rate, life is now imitating art as OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4o announcement showcased a new voice mode that included a character named Sky, who many have associated with Johansson’s signature raspy pipes. OpenAI founder Sam Altman would even post “her” on social media during the demo presentation.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, OpenAI has stated that they will be pausing the use of Sky’s voice due to the resemblance to the famous actress. The company stated, “We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky. We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them.” They would go further in-depth in a blog post where they addressed people’s concerns and explained their voice casting process, “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.”

OpenAI stated that they put out a casting call in early 2023 for voice models and received over 400 submissions. The list would eventually be narrowed down to 14 finalists. The company adds that they settled on five final voices when they stated, “We spoke with each actor about the vision for human-AI voice interactions and OpenAI, and discussed the technology’s capabilities, limitations, and the risks involved, as well as the safeguards we have implemented. It was important to us that each actor understood the scope and intentions of Voice Mode before committing to the project.”

The actors flew to San Francisco for the recording sessions that ChatGPT would integrate into its technology later this year. They expounded, “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 products.”

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/openai-chatgpt-4o-scarlett-johansson/

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