OpenAI delays release of controversial voice feature

In this post:

  • OpenAI postpones the release of its advanced voice mode over safety concerns.
  • The company says the delay allows them to conduct more safety tests.
  • Most ChatGPT users questioned the value of their premium subscriptions, with users trending toward ending their memberships.

OpenAI has delayed the release of the new voice mode feature, citing safety reasons. The company plans to carry out further safety tests on the feature before releasing it to its users. The firm revealed the feature last month.

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The voice mode has led to controversy for being worryingly realistic and allegedly using Scarlett Johansson to develop a voice that’d reflect her character in the ‘Her’ movie. The firm first demonstrated the expressive voice mode feature for ChatGPT back in May. It also showed that it could read facial expressions and engage in bubbly, real-time chats. The AI firm planned to release the voice feature in an alpha test to a certain group of ChatGPT Plus users by June.

OpenAI reveals the reasons for the delay

The company said the voice feature needed an extra month to refine its output before launching to all Plus members in the fall. The voice feature was perhaps the biggest announcement at the launch event, unveiled alongside ChatGPT-40 – the latest large language model feature. OpenAI employees showcased the voice mode, engaging in natural-sounding conversations.

At the time of the announcement, the company declared, “ChatGPT’s advanced Voice Mode can understand and respond with emotions and non-verbal cues, moving us closer to real-time, natural conversations with AI. Our mission is to bring these new experiences to you thoughtfully,”

The showcasing invited comparisons of the voice mode to “Her,” the science fiction film that featured a virtual partner voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The actress soon threatened to sue OpenAI for using a voice similar to hers in the movie. The company eventually stated that it was getting rid of the voice from its catalog. Seemingly, this legal threat could be one of the reasons that led to its postponement.

The AI company stated various reasons for postponing the release, one of which is to improve the user experience by ensuring that the feature can detect and decline to engage in certain conversations. OpenAI also says that it is preparing its infrastructure to manage the millions of members who intend to use the new voice feature.

“For example, we’re improving the model’s ability to detect and refuse certain content,” OpenAI said.

ChatGPT users express their dissatisfaction

A section of ChatGPT Plus users questioned the value of their premium subscription as they were unable to enjoy the promised features. Some critics were quick to note the company’s history of over-promising and failing to honor their promises.

In fact, some ChatGPT Plus members have suggested that it is the best time to end their premium subscription. Another user revealed that they opted to cancel their membership. Some AI community observers believe that the voice mode might be available in a few months. 


Cryptopolitan reporting by Collins J. Okoth

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