OpenAI suspends controversial AI voice amid Scarlett Johansson allegation

OpenAI has announced it would “pause the use” of its AI voice, Sky, for its ChatGPT AI chatbot, following public speculation that the voice bore an uncanny resemblance to actress Scarlett Johansson, per

While OpenAI initially denied any direct connection, Johansson’s recent statement paints a different picture.

Johansson disclosed to NPR’s Bobby Allyn that she had been approached by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in September 2023 to lend her voice to the ChatGPT AI chatbot, a proposal she declined for unspecified personal reasons. However, during a recent demonstration of ChatGPT-4o, the AI’s voice strikingly resembled Johansson’s, prompting widespread confusion and concern.

“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,” Johansson stated. 

Scarlet Johansson/Getty Images

She further revealed that Altman seemed to hint at the intentional nature of the similarity by tweeting “her,” a direct reference to the 2013 film Her, in which Johansson voiced an AI chatbot named Samantha.

Adding to the controversy, Johansson claimed that OpenAI reached out to her agent just two days before the demo, asking her to reconsider the initial offer. The demo proceeded before her agent could respond, amplifying her distress over the situation.

Johansson’s legal team has since contacted OpenAI to inquire about the creation process of the Sky voice. Following this, OpenAI announced the suspension of Sky’s voice, though they have yet to provide a detailed explanation.

In her statement, Johansson emphasised the importance of clarity and legal protection regarding the use of personal likenesses in AI technology: “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.”

As of now, neither OpenAI nor Sam Altman have publicly responded to Johansson’s allegations.

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