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OpenAI halts using ChatGPT's Sky voice after Scarlett Johansson said it was 'eerily' like hers

Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers in Cannes, 2023.
Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers in Cannes, 2023. Copyright Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File
Copyright Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File
By Euronews with AP
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The maker of the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT stopped using the voice that sounded "eerily similar" to that of the actress.

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OpenAI paused one of its ChatGPT voices after questions were raised about how it was created, with actress Scarlett Johansson saying it sounded "eerily similar" to her own voice.

Johansson, who voiced an AI assistant in the 2013 movie "Her," wrote in a statement that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had approached her in September to voice ChatGPT to bridge a gap between creatives and tech companies. She declined Altman's offer.

"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.

OpenAI "reluctantly" agreed to take down the Sky voice after she hired lawyers who wrote Altman letters asking about the process by which the company came up with the voice, Johansson added.

The San Francisco-based company first launched voice capabilities for ChatGPT in September.

Last week, OpenAI unveiled the latest model update GPT-4o which it says works faster across text, audio and video.

Altman even appeared to reference the 2013 movie in which Johansson played an AI assistant, posting the word "her" on the social media platform X on the day of GPT-4o's unveiling.

'Not an imitation'

In a blog post on Monday, OpenAI attempted to clarify how the voices for the AI model were created.

"Each of the voices - Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper, and Sky - are sampled from voice actors we partnered with to create them," the company said, adding that they had submissions from hundreds of voice and screen actors.

They went on to explain 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," OpenAI said.

"To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents," they added.

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