Scarlett Johansson: ChatGPT Voice Sounds a Little Familiar

OpenAI pulls 'Sky' voice after actor points out she'd turned down that role
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2024 7:30 PM CDT
Scarlett Johansson Agrees With Demo Users on ChatGPT Voice
Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers at Cannes, southern France, May 24, 2023.   (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

Scarlett Johansson says she rejected an offer from OpenAI to use her voice in its new ChatGPT system. Then the actor heard the demo released last week. The voice of Sky, she told Variety on Monday, is "so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference." Johansson said her lawyers contacted OpenAI to get the voice taken down, and the company announced Monday it's hitting the brakes on its use of the star's soundalike while it considers the matter.

ChatGPT-40 users who aren't stars also were creeped out by the similarity, per the Hollywood Reporter. Their uneasiness didn't come out of nowhere: Johansson's roles include an AI voice in the 2013 film Her. CEO Sam Altman seemed to acknowledge the connection, posting "her" on X, which Johansson noted in her statement. It was Altman, she said, who offered her the part in September. OpenAI said its voice, which answers questions, does belong to a professional actor, but not that one. "We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice," the company posted on its blog. OpenAI wouldn't name the actor who won the part but said she used her natural voice.

In the film, the character played by Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with that voice. In one demo, Sky came across as flirty, per Mashable, and included a compliment over a male voice's hoodie. That brought mockery by the Daily Show. The voices were chosen from more than 400 candidates, OpenAI said, adding that it worked with casting directors to narrow the field to 14. Those actors were brought to San Francisco for recording sessions last year, the company said. (More ChatGPT stories.)

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