Scarlett Johansson Takes Action Against AI Company

OpenAI’s Sky sounded eerily similar to the Hollywood actress, calling for more clarity and transparency.

When OpenAI’s ChatGPT introduced the voice of “Sky,” users immediately connected it to actress Scarlett Johansson. What began as a conspiracy theory may actually have facts to back it up.

Scarlett Johansson Makes A Statement

In a statement given to the press, Johansson said that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman approached her back in September 2023. He asked if they could hire her to provide the voice for ChatGPT 4.0.

After giving it some thought, the actress ultimately declined the offer due to personal reasons. Only nine months after the meeting, Johansson’s friends, family, and the public started noting how ChatGPT’s new system, Sky, sounded like her.

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“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,” Johansson stated. She added that even the people closest to her and news outlets couldn’t tell the difference.

Scarlett Johansson criticizes OpenAI
Image via Instagram @theoutset

Adding to her claim, the OpenAI CEO also posted a single word on X, “her.” This could be in reference to one of Johansson’s movies in which she voiced a chat system that forms a relationship with a human. If this is true, then Altman indirectly admits that the similarity in their voices is intentional.

According to Johansson, Altman contacted her agent again just two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo would be released. He asked her to reconsider but the system was already live before she could get the chance to respond.

The actress was forced to seek legal counsel who wrote letters to Altman and the company. In the letters, she asked for a detailed explanation about the process of creating the voice of Sky.

OpenAI’s Response

After receiving the letters from Johansson’s lawyers, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the Sky voice. The company has since released a statement on social media and their website.

ChatGPT application
Image by Solen Feyissa via Pexels

“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.”

OpenAI stated that “Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.” However, they did not disclose the name of the hired voice actor.

The Issue With AI

There have been many ethical concerns regarding artificial intelligence. When it comes to art, music, acting, and more, creatives have a lot at stake. Developers who work with AI often train their programs on existing works to be able to create something “new.”

But where is the line drawn? Now, artists’ works are often taken without their permission and without compensation. “While AI is a powerful tool for creation, it raises important questions about the future of art, the rights and remuneration of artists and the integrity of the creative value chain,” UNESCO states.

SAG-AFTRA also provided a statement in support of Johansson. “We share in her concerns and fully support her right to have clarity and transparency regarding the voice used in developing the Chat GPT appliance ‘Sky,’” a union spokesperson told Variety.

“SAG-AFTRA members are among the most talented and often most recognizable people on the planet. That is why we’re strongly championing federal legislation that would protect their voices and likenesses—and everyone else’s as well—from unauthorized digital replication.”

Johansson concluded her own statement saying, “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. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

Banner image via Instagram @asteroidcity and @focusfeatures.

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