Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Scarlett Johansson shocked by AI voice

Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson expressed that she was “shocked, angered, and in disbelief” after Sam Altman’s OpenAI launched a chatbot with an “eerily similar” voice to hers, according to a BBC report. Johansson mentioned that she had previously declined the company’s request to use her voice for their new ChatGPT 4.0 chatbot, which reads material aloud to users.

Since the AI chatbot named Sky debuted last week, many users have quickly drawn parallels between the chatbot’s tone and Johansson’s voice in the 2013 movie ‘Her’.

OpenAI announced on X (formerly Twitter) that the AI voice would be put on hold while the company addresses “questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT.” In a blog post, the company stated that the Sky voice was “not an imitation” of Scarlett Johansson’s voice. They clarified that it was recorded by a separate professional actor, whose identity would remain undisclosed to protect her privacy.

Despite this, Johansson accused OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman of copying her voice. She stated, “Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. 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.”

Ms. Johansson added that she declined the offer but was taken aback when she heard the demo. “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. 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.”

Ms. Johansson stated that the circumstances “forced her to hire legal counsel,” and as a result, her attorney sent two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI requesting an explanation of the chatbot voice’s creation process. She added that OpenAI then “reluctantly agreed” to remove the voice from the platform.

“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,” she said in her statement.

Meanwhile, Sam Altman stated in an email to Reuters that Sky’s voice was not an imitation of Johansson but belonged to a different professional actress. He said, “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers. 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.”

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