Scarlett Johansson ‘Angered’ Over OpenAI’s Chatbot Mimicking ‘Her’ Voice

Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI and its founder Sam Altman on Monday, saying the AI ​​company, which makes ChatGPT, created a new chatbot voice that sounded “eerily similar” to hers, after refusing to license it. his voice to the system.

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angry and incredulous that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that so eerily resembled mine,” Johansson wrote in a statement released Monday by NPR.

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OpenAI last week introduced GPT-4 Omni (GPT-4o), its latest AI model. The company demonstrated how AI can converse in a more human way, with the ability to whisper, make sarcastic remarks and even flirt.

OpenAI’s virtual assistant demonstration quickly drew comparisons to Johansson’s character from the 2013 film Her. In that film, directed by Spike Jonze, Johansson plays Samantha, a virtual assistant who develops an intimate relationship with a writer lonely.

Learn more: Microsoft Copilot embraces the power of OpenAI’s new GPT-4o

Look at this: Scarlett Johansson says ChatGPT looks like her; OpenAI removes voice

On Sunday, OpenAI announced that it had suspended the use of its AI voice, called Sky, while it answered questions surrounding the voice of its virtual assistant. Sky, available since OpenAI launched ChatGPT’s voice mode last September, was one of five voices available with GPT-4o. In a blog post published Sunday, OpenAI said it did not copy Johansson’s voice.

“We believe that AI voices should not deliberately imitate the distinctive voice of a celebrity – Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural voice,” the company said. “To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talent.”

A large screen on stage displaying the lyrics A large screen on stage displaying the lyrics

Google unveiled its own real-time, multi-modal AI assistant shortly after OpenAI unveiled GPT-4o.

Numi Prasarn, CNET

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Altman reiterated the company’s position Monday. The former OpenAI CEO said Sky’s voice was “never intended to sound like” Johansson’s voice, in a statement shared with CNET.

“We chose the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before contacting Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have suspended the use of Sky’s voice in our products,” Altman said. “We apologize to Ms. Johansson for not communicating better.”

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In his statement, Johansson accused the company and Altmann to intentionally copy his voice. The American actor said Altman approached her in September about expressing GPT-4o to help consumers “feel comfortable with the seismic shift regarding humans and AI”, adding that Altman said his voice would be “comforting to people.” Johansson, who declined the initial offer for personal reasons, said Altman contacted his agent again days before the May event, asking him to reconsider licensing his voice for a virtual assistant.

Screenshot of an X post from Sam Altman with a single word: Screenshot of an X post from Sam Altman with a single word:

Sam Altman posted the word “she” to X in connection with OpenAI’s GPT-4o event.


“Before we could connect, the system was there,” Johansson said in his statement. She added that she was “forced” to hire legal counsel, who wrote to Altman asking for transparency about the process followed to hire the voice talent.

In choosing a voice AI, OpenAI’s blog says, the company narrowed more than 400 applications from voice and film actors to just five, whose voices it said embody a set of characteristics, including “a voice accessible that inspires confidence”, “seems timeless”. and is “natural and easy to listen to”.

The legal threat Johansson poses comes as OpenAI grapples with a series of copyright violations from Hollywood’s creative industries as well as the broader media industry. In April, a group of eight daily newspapers filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a copyright infringement claim related to the unauthorized use of their articles to train AI models.

Editor’s note: CNET used an AI engine to create several dozen stories, labeled accordingly. The note you are reading is attached to articles that cover the topic of AI in depth, but are created entirely by our expert editors and editors. To find out more, see our AI Policy.

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With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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