Scarlett Johansson Claims OpenAI Copied Her Voice Without Consent

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Scarlett Johansson Claims OpenAI Copied Her Voice Without Consent

By Movieguide® Contributor 

Actress Scarlett Johansson believes an AI company used her voice for its product, despite her request for it not to.

OpenAI, creators of Chat GPT, released a new model last week including a feature called “Voice Mode.” This feature allows users to hear a voice respond to their questions and searches. The voice in question is one called “Sky,” which both users and Johansson herself believe sounds like the actress. 

The unfortunate “coincidence” is that the company had asked the BLACK WIDOW actress if they could use her voice.

“Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system,” she said in a statement. “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 to 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. Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me.

Johansson explained that Altman even seemed to reference a movie she was in for the release of Sky.

“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. 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.”

In response, Johansson has taken legal action, and OpenAI has removed Sky from its platform.

“We believe 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.”

Altman denies “any connection between Johansson and the Sky voice.”

“We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson,” he said in a statement. “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.” 

Regardless of whether the voice intentionally sounded like Johansson or not, the actress believes “these are questions that deserve absolute clarity” in an age when celebrities are “grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities.”

“I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected,” she added. 

This isn’t the first time Johansson’s likeness has been copied without consent for AI. Movieguide® previously reported on an ad that used AI-generated images of the actress:

AVENGERS star Scarlett Johansson is pursuing legal action against an AI app that used her likeness without permission in an ad.

“We do not take these things likely. Per our usual course of action in these circumstances, we will deal will it with all legal remedies that we will have,” Johansson’s lawyer, Kevin Yorn, told Variety.

The ad came to Johansson’s attention when it was posted on X. The endorsement began with an old clip of the actress on the set of BLACK WIDOW saying, “What’s up guys? It’s Scarlett, and I want you to come with me…” before the AI generation begins as a graphic covers the actress’ mouth.

The ad continued with an AI-generated voice that mimics Johansson, along with AI-generated images of her. “It’s not limited to avatars only,” the AI-generated endorsement continued. “You can also create images with texts and even your AI videos. I think you shouldn’t miss it.”

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