Scarlett Johansson Was “Shocked” and “Angered” by OpenAI Imitating Her Voice

Scarlett Johansson at an interview

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson said she was “shocked” and “angered” after OpenAI launched a chatbot with a voice that sounded a lot like hers. The actress said she had previously declined an offer from the company to voice its new chatbot, which reads text aloud to users.

When the new ChatGPT 4.0 model came out last week, people quickly noticed that the chatbot’s “Sky” voice sounded very similar to Johansson’s voice in the 2013 film “Her.”

On Monday, OpenAI said it would remove the voice but claimed it was not intended to be an “imitation” of the actress. However, Johansson accused the company and its founder, Sam Altman, of copying her voice on purpose, according to a released statement.

“When I heard the demo, I was shocked, angry, and couldn’t believe that Mr. Altman would use a voice that sounded so much like mine,” she wrote. “Mr. Altman even hinted that the similarity was on purpose by tweeting the word ‘her’, a reference to the movie where I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who has a close relationship with a human.”

Was There Any Prior Deal?

Scarlett Johansson said Mr. Altman first approached her about voicing the new chatbot in September. In her words “Mr. Altman told me that he thought my voice could help bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and make people feel comfortable with the big changes happening with humans and AI”.

“He said he believed my voice would be comforting to people.” However, she eventually turned down the offer for personal reasons.

Two days before the Sky chatbot was released, Mr. Altman contacted her agent, urging Johansson to reconsider her decision not to work with the company. The award-winning actress said she had to hire lawyers and sent two legal letters to the company to find out how the voice was made.

“In a time when we are all dealing with deep fakes and protecting our likeness, our work, and our identities, I believe these are questions that need clear answers,” she wrote.

How Has Open AI Company Reacted?

In a statement shared by OpenAI, Mr. Altman denied that the company tried to copy Johansson’s voice. “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never meant to sound like hers,” he wrote.

“We chose the voice actor for Sky before reaching out to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for her, we have stopped using Sky’s voice in our products. We apologize to Ms. Johansson for not communicating better.”

The company also said it is “working to pause” the use of the voice while addressing questions about its selection in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

In a blog post, OpenAI explained that the five voices used by its chatbot were sampled from voice actors it partnered with.

Leave a Reply