ChatGPT Suspends Scarlett Johansson Voice Clone After She Lawyers Up

OpenAI, which is losing key execs at a rapid pace – has made the choice to “pause” its new ChatGPT voice after actress Scarlett Johansson lawyered up and threatened legal action, alleging that the AI start-up copied her voice after she refused to license it to the company.

The actress said that last September, the company approached her to be the voice of their new conversational AI system, which she declined. Then in May of this year, CEO Sam Altman contacted her again, asking her to reconsider. Before she could respond, OpenAI released a demo of its new technology featuring a voice called “Sky” – which many have suggested bears an uncanny resemblance to Johansson’s character in the 2013 movie “her,” in which she’s the voice of a super-intelligent AI assistant.

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,” she wrote, adding: “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.”

Here’s her statement as read in the voice of Sky:

On Monday the company issued a statement announcing the “pause” after hearing “questions” over their how they choose the voices in ChatGPT.

Altman claims that “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” but that “Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products.” 

Sky was one of five voices OpenAI unveiled in September when it incorporated an audio conversation mode into ChatGPT, which The Post noted at the time sounded similar to Johansson.

In a September interview, The Post asked Peter Deng, OpenAI’s vice president of consumer products, whether the voice was meant to resemble the actress’s. “No, we actually have five different voices we’ll be launching with. It’s all personal preference,” Deng said.

OpenAI suspended the Sky voice on Sunday, announcing the change in a blog post titled “How the voices for ChatGPT were chosen.” The company said it launched an extensive search and reviewed the submissions of 400 voice actors. It said it paid “above top-of-market rates” to the five chosen to participate. -WaPo

OpenAI is currently facing a slew of lawsuits by various authors alleging copyright violations after the company used their content to train its AI models – including works by writer George R.R. Martin and news organizations including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.


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