Scarlett Johansson Takes Legal Action Over Unauthorized Use of Her Voice by ChatGPT

In a statement, actress Scarlett Johansson expressed her “shock, anger, and disbelief” at OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s decision to use a synthetic voice that was “so eerily similar” to hers in ChatGPT.

The announcement follows OpenAI’s announcement that it is pausing the update due to similarities with a fictitious voice assistant presented in Johansson’s quasi-dystopian film “Her.”

OpenAI’s withdrawal comes in response to criticism of Sky, the artificial voice, which some said sounded like it was taken straight out of a male developer’s dream and was too familiar with users. Its flirty tone led to widespread ridicule.

“We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky,” OpenAI stated in a post on X Monday. “We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them.”

According to Johansson, last September, Altman made her an offer to work as the ChatGPT 4.0 system’s voice. She stated that she turned down the offer due to “personal reasons.”

“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.”

Johansson added that she retained legal representation, and that following two letters from her attorney to Altman, OpenAI “reluctantly agreed” to remove 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,” Johansson stated.

The business stated in a blog post on Sunday that the voice in question “belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice” and is not a parody of Johansson’s.

In response to Johansson’s allegations, Altman restated the studio’s position in a statement on Monday that “Sky” was performed by a different woman.

“The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” Altman stated. “We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better.”

According to OpenAI, it aimed to produce “an approachable voice that inspires trust” for each of its AI voices, one that has a “rich tone” and is “natural and easy to listen to.”

Although the ChatGPT voice mode that utilized the Sky voice was not yet generally available, last week saw the internet go viral with videos from the product introduction and teasers showing OpenAI staff members using it.

Sky was mocked by others who thought it was probably too simple to listen to. In response to the issue, senior correspondent Desi Lydic called Sky a “horny robot baby voice” during a segment on The Daily Show last week.

“This is clearly programmed to feed dudes’ egos,” Lydic stated. “You can really tell that a man built this tech.”

When Altman posted on X on the day of the product’s announcement, he seemed to even recognize the widespread comparisons users were making with Johansson: “her.” According to Johansson, Altman implied that “the similarity was intentional” in this post.

The 2013 movie “Her” stars Scarlett Johansson as an artificially intelligent voice assistant who falls in love with the main character, played by Joaquin Phoenix. However, Joaquin Phoenix is heartbroken when the AI confesses that she is in love with hundreds of other users and eventually stops being reachable.

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