Scarlett Johansson ‘Angered’ by OpenAI Choice to Use ‘Eerily Similar’ Voice for GPT-4o

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • One of the five ChatGPT voices has been likened to Scarlett Johansson, leading to its withdrawal.
  • The voice of "Sky" is similar to the actress' character in Her.
  • OpenAI has dismissed any imitation claims, but CEO Sam Altman previously referenced the 2013 movie on X.

Scarlett Johansson has blasted OpenAI for using a voice allegedly very similar to hers for its GPT-40 AI model.

The Hollywood actress released a statement to convey her anger at the situation, revealing that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman approached her last year to be one of the voices for GPT-4o. She declined the offer and has subsequently sought legal counsel to determine what has happened and how the US AI firm created “Sky.”

OpenAI has now removed the chatbot, stating it is “working to pause” the voice of Sky which responds to ChatGPT users, while it addresses the situation around the similarity to the Hollywood star and the character she played in the 2013 movie Her. It’s unclear if the company will permanently remove Sky, or if any changes are coming.

In Her, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his phone’s AI helper known as Samantha, voiced by Johansson.

The statement from the highest-grossing box-office female talent of all time  read:

“When I heard the release 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,” she said. Her statment also detailed how Altman referenced the name of the film Her when OpenAI unveiled GPT-4o on May 13th.

Johansson suggested this was an attempt to encourage the public to connect the AI assistant with the voice character she performed.

She was responding to a blog post published by OpenAI explaining that voices shouldn’t “deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice” while denying that Sky’s vocals were an imitation.  They belong to a different actress using her “natural speaking voice,” the company said.

It added how each actor “receives compensation above top-of-market rates”, and “to protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents.”

As reported by Wired, this wrangle with Johansson is the latest dispute OpenAI is embroiled in following other disputes with artists and creatives. It’s defending against lawsuits alleging it has inappropriately used copyrighted material to train its algorithms, including action from The New York Times and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.