Scarlett Johnasson reacts to OpenAI’s use of her voice for ChatGPT’s latest chatbot

Written by on May 20, 2024

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Scarlett Johansson is not happy that OpenAI used a voice eerily similar to hers for the newest version of its ChatGPT system.

The company recently announced they were pausing the use of the its voice-enabled chatbot, Sky, after users pointed out its similarity to Johansson’s voice. Now, in a statement issued by her publicist to ABC News, Johansson says OpenAI founder Sam Altman actually contacted her in September about using her voice but she declined their offer, “after much consideration and for personal reasons.”

She says she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief,” when she heard the newly released Sky demo, noting that the voice was so similar to hers that, she says, “my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference.” She noted that Altman “insinuated that the similarity was intentional” because he posted the word “her” to X, referring to Johansson’s 2014 movie Her, in which she voiced a similar chat system. 

Scarlett adds that before the ChatGPT launch, her agent was contacted about reconsidering her decision, but the system went live before she even responded.  

“As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice,” she says. “Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the ‘Sky’ voice.”

“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,” she concludes. “I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

In a statement, Altman denied that Sky was based on Johansson’s voice, adding, “It was never intended to resemble hers.”

“We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson,” the statement continued. “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.”

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