Scarlett Johansson takes Legal Action Over Voice Similarities to ChatGPT, But Documents Reveal It Wasn’t AI-Generated

Scarlett Johansson and openai case

Scarlett Johansson takes Legal Action After Declining OpenAI’s Offer to Voice Its Chatbot

The voice that eerily resembled Scarlett Johansson’s and was used for OpenAI’s popular chatbot actually belonged to an actress the AI research organization hired months before the company’s CEO ever reached out to the Lucy star. According to documents and recordings obtained by The Washington Post, OpenAI sent out a casting call in May 2023 seeking non-union actors with “warm, engaging, and charismatic” voices aged 25 to 45 to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system.

The outlet reports, citing interviews with multiple people involved in the hiring process and documents shared by OpenAI, that the company did not request a clone of Johansson. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman approached Johansson last September with the opportunity to lend her own voice, which she declined.

Now, the voice actress’s agent tells The Post that neither Johansson nor the movie Her were ever mentioned by OpenAI. Based on brief recordings of her initial voice test reviewed by the outlet, the actress’s natural voice sounds identical to the AI-generated voice OpenAI has dubbed “Sky.”

This explanation comes after Scarlett Johansson takes legal action and accused Altman of recreating her voice for ChatGPT, prompting her to take legal action. In a statement to ET, Scarlett Johansson, through her rep, shared when she was approached by Altman and her disdain after discovering that “Sky” is eerily reminiscent of her own voice.

chatgpt 4

“Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system,” Johansson’s statement read. “He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people.”

“After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer,” the statement continued. “Nine months later, my friends, family, and the general public all noted how much the newest system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me.”

Upon hearing the demo, Johansson said she “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.”

“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,” the statement continued, alluding to the 2013 film, Her.

Days before the demo’s release, Scarlett Johansson takes legal action by claiming in her statement, “Mr. Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there.”

“As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice,” the statement read. “Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the ‘Sky’ voice.”

how deepfake work

Scarlett Johansson’s statement concluded with a general statement about the emergence of AI.

“In a time when we are all grappling with deep fakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity,” Scarlett Johansson’s statement read.

“I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.” After Scarlett Johansson takes legal action, Altman addressed the situation in a statement to The Verge.

“The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” he said. “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.”

Prior to Scarlett Johansson taking legal action, her husband, Colin Jost, joked about the situation during a joke swap with Michael Che on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, in which each man read jokes that the other wrote without reading them beforehand.

“ChatGPT has released a new voice assistant feature inspired by Scarlett Johansson’s AI character in Her,” a nervous Jost said during the show’s “Weekend Update” segment. “Which I’ve never bothered to watch, because without that body, what’s the point of listening?”

Scarlett Johansson takes legal action as the situation unfolds, highlighting the complexities and challenges of AI voice replication and the protection of individual rights in the age of advanced technology.

Why did Scarlett Johansson take legal action against OpenAI?

Scarlett Johansson takes legal action against OpenAI after discovering that the voice used for OpenAI’s popular chatbot eerily resembled her own. Although Johansson had previously declined an offer from OpenAI to voice their ChatGPT 4.0 system, the final product featured a voice that was remarkably similar to hers. This prompted her to accuse OpenAI of recreating her voice without permission, leading her to take legal action to address the issue and protect her rights.

What was OpenAI’s response to Scarlett Johansson taking legal action?

In response to Scarlett Johansson takes legal action, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman stated that the voice used for their chatbot was not Scarlett Johansson’s and was never intended to resemble hers. OpenAI had cast the voice actor for the chatbot months before any outreach to Johansson. Out of respect for Johansson, OpenAI paused using the voice and expressed regret for not communicating better. Despite this, Scarlett Johansson decided to take legal action to seek clarity and protection of her likeness.

What are Scarlett Johansson’s goals in taking legal action?

Scarlett Johansson’s primary goal in taking legal action is to ensure transparency and protect individual rights in the age of AI and deepfake technology. By taking legal action, she hopes to address the unauthorized use of her likeness and voice, promote clear guidelines, and advocate for appropriate legislation. Johansson believes that these steps are crucial to safeguard personal identities and prevent similar issues in the future.

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