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Business News/ Ai / Artificial Intelligence/  Scarlett Johansson ‘shocked and angered' after OpenAI allegedly uses her voice without consent for chatbot ‘Sky’
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Scarlett Johansson ‘shocked and angered' after OpenAI allegedly uses her voice without consent for chatbot ‘Sky’

Actress Scarlett Johansson has claimed that OpenAI used a voice for their new ChatGPT 4o chatbot that she found eerily similar to her own, despite having declined the company’s request to use her voice.

Scarlett Johansson has accused OpenAI of using her voice without consent for their new 'Sky' AI system, sparking a debate on the ethical use of artificial intelligence and digital likenessPremium
Scarlett Johansson has accused OpenAI of using her voice without consent for their new 'Sky' AI system, sparking a debate on the ethical use of artificial intelligence and digital likeness

Actress Scarlett Johansson has claimed that OpenAI used a voice for their new ChatGPT 4o chatbot that she found “eerily similar" to her own, despite having declined the company’s request to use her voice. 

In a statement to NPR, Johansson detailed her experience with the tech giant and its latest AI voice, “Sky." NPR’s Technology Correspondent, Bobby Allyn, shared the statement on social media platform X.

The artificial intelligence company, led by CEO Sam Altman, announced it would temporarily suspend the use of the Johansson-like voice, dubbed “Sky," following Johansson’s public outcry.

Also Read | Making ChatGPT ‘sexy’ may not be the best way to make it better

“Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system," Johansson stated. “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 feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people."

Also Read | 5 reasons why you should get a ChatGPT subscription as GPT-4o kicks in

Despite being flattered by the offer, Johansson declined for personal reasons. However, she was taken aback nine months later when she and those close to her noted the “uncanny similarity" between her voice and the voice of the newly released AI system, "Sky".

"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," Johansson continued. 

The situation escalated when Altman tweeted a cryptic reference to her role in the film Her, in which she voiced an AI named Samantha. This added to her suspicion that the similarity was intentional.

Johansson revealed that just two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, Altman contacted her agent, asking her to reconsider. The timing, she said, was too close to the release to change anything. Consequently, she sought legal counsel, who sent letters to Altman and OpenAI, demanding transparency and the removal of the "Sky" voice.

"Because of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr Altman and OpenAI, describing what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the 'Sky' voice," Johansson explained. The pressure led OpenAI to agree to take down the "Sky" voice reluctantly.

Johansson's statement highlights the broader issues at play in the era of deepfakes and AI. "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," she stated. "I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected."

Meanwhile, responding to Johansson's claims, OpenAI said that the company supports the creative community and works closely with the voice-acting industry to ensure the right steps are taken 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," OpenAI said, as per Reuters.

“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," Reuters quoted the company saying.

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Published: 21 May 2024, 06:56 AM IST
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