OpenAI pauses use of ChatGPT voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson

Written by on May 20, 2024

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OpenAI is pausing the use of an emotive voice on its newest version of ChatGPT that sounded suspiciously like Scarlett Johansson.

Users noticed that the voice, called Sky, sounded like Johansson, who famously played the voice of an emotive AI in the 2013 sci-fi drama Her. During the demo of the new offering, OpenAI founder Sam Altman posted “her” on social platform X, fueling more questions about the voice’s origins.

OpenAI now says it is pausing the use of Sky while it addresses “questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT.” In a blog post shared Monday, the company said the voice used was not meant to mimic Johansson’s.

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

This all comes after the voice was joked about on the season 49 finale of Saturday Night Live.

The May 18 episode included a staple of recent finales — the joke swap tradition between Weekend Update hosts and head writers Michael Che and Colin Jost.

As part of the swap, the comedians read jokes the other had prepared for them, without any kind of a heads-up. It can be a dangerous game, as Jost — who is married to Johansson — found out when he read a joke about his wife that Che had written.

“ChatGPT has released a new voice assistant feature inspired by Scarlett Johansson’s AI character in Her,” Jost said. “Which I’ve never bothered to watch, because without that body, what’s the point of listening?”

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