Scarlett Johansson-Sounding ChatGPT Voice To Be Pulled; “Not An Imitation,” OpenAI Insists

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson Getty

OpenAI is pulling an artificial intelligence voice that users compared with Scarlett Johansson’s, but the company insists it is “not an imitation” and that it “supports the creative community.”

The company detailed its rationale in a blog post Monday morning, saying the voice for “Sky,” one of five interactive voices introduced last fall, “sampled” that of a real voice actor. The company has not disclosed the identities of the actors whose voices served as the foundation for the ChatGPT features, citing privacy considerations.

“We support the creative community and worked closely with the voice acting industry to ensure we took the right steps to cast ChatGPT’s voices,” the company wrote. “Each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products.

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AI voices, OpenAI asserted, “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.”

Saturday Night Live worked in a riff on the controversy during “Weekend Update,” with Johansson’s husband, Colin Jost, joking about comparisons between the voice-activated ChatGPT and the film Her. In the 2013 film, Johansson voiced the central, if technically inanimate, character of a virtual assistant with which Joaquin Phoenix’s character becomes enamored.

“I’ve never bothered to watch because without that body, what’s the point of listening?” Jost cracked.

The flap is anything but a laughing matter to Hollywood’s labor unions, of course. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA made AI key elements of their landmark 2023 strikes and the guilds continue to closely monitor and weigh in on developments on the technology frontier.

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