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ChatGPT pulls Scarlett Johansson sounding AI

by on21 May 2024

Sky meets its limit

ChatGPT has withdrawn one of the voices from its conversational "Sky" ChatGPT after Scarlett Johansson raised concerns that it bore an uncanny resemblance to her voice.

Actor Scarlett Johansson expressed she was "shocked" and "angered" by the "eerily similar" nature of one of the ChatGPT voices to her own. She wasn't alone in her observations; users had remarked on the likeness between Johansson’s voice and the "Sky" voice option within the app, particularly after an update that rendered ChatGPT more conversational and, as some have suggested, even flirtatious.

Johansson is well-known for her role as the AI interface's voice in the 2013 film Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix's character gradually falls in love with his virtual assistant.

Following the feedback, OpenAI posted on X, previously known as Twitter: “We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky. We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them.”

Johansson revealed that OpenAI's chief executive, Sam Altman, had approached her in September with a proposal to lend her voice to the system, suggesting it would be "comforting to people" who are apprehensive about technology.

“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 to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI,” the actress stated.

“After much consideration and for personal reasons, (I) declined the offer.”

The statement went on: “Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me.

“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.”

She mentioned that OpenAI "reluctantly" agreed to remove the Sky voice after she engaged lawyers who contacted Mr Altman inquiring about the method by which the company developed the voice.

In a blog post accompanying its X announcement, the AI firm stated: “We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice – Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.

“To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents.”

The post also detailed that each voice used by ChatGPT “has been carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months involving professional voice actors, talent agencies, casting directors, and industry advisers.”

The company communicated with each shortlisted voice actor regarding the technology's capabilities and limitations, as well as its potential risks and the safeguards in place, prior to finalising the five voices that would feature in the app.

Last modified on 21 May 2024
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