Scarlett Johansson Hits Out Over ChatGPT Voice System That Sounded 'Eerily' Like Her

"In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness [...] I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity."
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson
Sean Zanni via Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson was “shocked” and “angered” to discover that ChatGPT’s new voice system was eerily similar to her own.

The Hollywood star alleged that she had previously turned down an offer by OpenAI to voice a feature on the new voice-enabled system, which offers conversational responses to verbal prompts offered by users.

While the new update has been programmed to sound more chatty and even flirty in some of its responses, many users claimed a new voice called “Sky” sounded very similar to the actor after the newest version of the platform launched last week.

The Black Widow star said OpenAI founder Sam Altman had even “insinuated that the similarity was intentional” by posting the word “her” on X, seemingly in reference to the 2013 film of the same name, in which Scarlett voiced an operating system named Samantha who forms an intimate relationship with Joaquin Phoenix’s character.

“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,” Scarlett said.

The two-time Oscar nominee claimed that Altman had originally offered her the voice role last September, telling her she could “bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI”.

She added that the CEO “said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people”, but she declined the offer after “much consideration and for personal reasons”.

The Marvel performer added that, two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, “Mr Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider”. However, before they had the chance to “connect”, the system was already “out there”.

Scarlett said OpenAI had now “reluctantly” agreed to take down the voice after she requested they outline their process for creating “Sky”.

Her statement concluded: “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.”

Scarlett Johansson lent her voice to an operating system in the Joaquin Phoenix sci-fi film Her
Scarlett Johansson lent her voice to an operating system in the Joaquin Phoenix sci-fi film Her
Moviestore/Shutterstock

OpenAI released a statement on Monday stating that it would halt the use of the “Sky” voice after users pointed out the similarities.

“We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky,” it read, per Sky News. “We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them.”

In a separate statement to the BBC, Altman denied that the voice was Scarlett’s and insisted 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,” he said.

The dispute comes just six months after the Hollywood strikes came to an end, where many A-list actors called for better safeguarding in regards to AI.

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