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Scarlett Johansson says OpenAI used her likeness with out permission for its ‘Sky’ voice assistant

Actor Scarlett Johansson has accused OpenAI of copying her voice for one of many voice assisstants in ChatGPT regardless of denying the corporate permission to take action. Johansson’s assertion on Monday got here hours after OpenAI mentioned that the corporate would now not use the voice in ChatGPT however didn’t present a cause why.

“Final September, I acquired a proposal from Sam Altman, who needed to rent me to voice the present ChatGPT 4.0 system,” Johansson wrote within the assertion that was first shared with NPR. “He instructed me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I may bridge the hole between tech corporations and creatives and assist shoppers to really feel snug with the seismic shift regarding people and AI. He mentioned he felt that my voice could be comforting to folks.” Johansson added that she declined the supply after “a lot consideration and for private causes,” however when OpenAI demoed GPT-4o, the corporate’s newest giant language mannequin final week, “my associates, household, and most people all famous how a lot the most recent system named ’Sky’ seemed like me.”

When Johansson noticed OpenAI’s latest demo, she mentioned she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily much like thoughts that my closest associates and information shops couldn’t inform the distinction.” She additionally revealed that Altman had contacted her agent simply two days earlier than the corporate revealed GPT-4o and requested her to rethink, however launched the system anyway earlier than she had an opportunity to reply.

“The voice of Sky isn’t Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was by no means meant to resemble hers,” an OpenAI spokesperson mentioned in a press release despatched to Engadget that the corporate attributed to Altman, OpenAI’s co-founder and CEO. “We forged the voice actor behind Sky’s voice earlier than any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we’ve got paused utilizing Sky’s voice in our merchandise. We’re sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t talk higher.”

Though “Sky” has been one of many voice assisstants in ChatGPT since September 2023, GPT-4o, which the corporate introduced final week, takes issues a step additional. The corporate mentioned that the brand new mannequin is nearer to “rather more pure human-computer interplay” and demoed its executives having almost human-like conversations with the voice assistant in ChatGPT. This invited comparisons to Samantha, the digital voice assistant performed by Johansson within the 2013 film Her who has an intimate relationship with a human being. Shortly after the occasion, Altman tweeted a single phrase — “her” — in an obvious reference to the movie.

On Monday, OpenAI mentioned that it was pausing the usage of “Sky” in ChatGPT and launched a prolonged put up revealing how the corporate employed skilled voice actors to create its personal digital assistants, and denying any similarities with Johansson’s voice.

“We imagine that AI voices shouldn’t intentionally mimic a celeb’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice isn’t an imitation of Scarlett Johansson however belongs to a special skilled actress utilizing her personal pure talking voice,” OpenAI wrote and added that every of its performers, who it declined to call for privateness causes, was paid “above top-of-market charges, and it will proceed for so long as their voices are utilized in our merchandise.”

This transfer, Johansson mentioned in her assertion, solely got here after she employed authorized counsel who wrote two letters to Altman and OpenAI asking for an evidence. “In a time once we are all grappling with deepfakes and the safety of our personal likeness, our personal work, our personal identities, I imagine these are questions that deserve absolute readability,” Johansson wrote. “I stay up for decision within the type of transparency and the passage of acceptable laws to assist be sure that particular person rights are protected.”

Replace, Could 20 2024, 9:09 PM ET: This story has been up to date to incorporate a press release from OpenAI.

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