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Scarlett Johansson was ‘shocked’ to see OpenAI’s using voice ‘eerily’ similar to hers

Los Angeles : Actress Scarlett Johansson shared that she turned down OpenAI‘s request to lend her voice to ChatGPT system, and added that she was “shocked” and “angered” that the company went ahead and used a voice that sounded very similar to hers anyway.

Johansson said that her lawyers contacted OpenAI to have the voice of Sky, one of the new voices in the GPT-4o chatbot, pulled down, reports variety.com.

It was last week, when OpenAI introduced the Sky voice, which sounded very much like that of Johansson’s AI companion in Spike Jonze’s 2013 movie ‘Her’ in a demo of GPT-4o.

The company shared that it would “pause” the use of the Sky voice.

“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,” a statement from OpenAI read.

Johansson said that she had been contacted by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in September 2023. She added that she declined for “personal reasons.”

“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 said.

“Mr Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘Her’ — a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.”

Johansson called for legislation that would protect individuals from having their name, image or likeness misappropriated.

Another statement OpenAI from Altman read: “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers. We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms Johansson. 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.”

The Johansson-soundalike ChatGPT voice was the basis of a joke on the season finale of ‘Saturday Night Live’ aimed at her husband, Colin Jost, co-host of Weekend Update.

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