OpenAI Scraps ChatGPT Voice After Scarlett Johansson Controversy 

Scarlett JohanssonScarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon (2024)

In this post:

  • OpenAI suspends ChatGPT voice ‘Sky’ for sounding like Scarlett Johansson
  •  Company says AI voices should not ‘deliberately’ mimic celebrity voices
  • Artists accuse AI off ripping them off


OpenAI is pausing the use of the ChatGPT voice called ‘Sky’ because people think it sounds like Scarlett Johansson in the movie ‘Her’.

The Hollywood star dubbed the “charismatic queen of science fiction” voices a disembodied artificial intelligence companion named Samatha in the Spike Jonze movie.

“We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky. We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them,” OpenAI said on X.

Also read: OpenAI Unveils GPT-4o: Free Access With Limitations  

OpenAI Says AI Voice Shouldn’t Mimic Celebrity

OpenAI released a new AI model, GPT-4o, last week, introducing a range of audio voices for ChatGPT.

The company says it auditioned over 400 voice actors and eventually partnered five to create the voices – Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and Sky. The firm did not name the human actors citing privacy.

People on social media began posting about the similarity they noticed between the ‘Sky’ voice option and Johansson’s voice in the movie.

In a blog post on Monday, OpenAI said 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,” the company averred.

It is unclear whether there has been legal correspondence between Johannson and OpenAI. However, CEO Sam Altman seemed to pay homage to Johannson’s performance, simply tweeting “her” on X a week before the announcement to remove Sky.

Artists Protest Against AI Exploitation

In November last year, Johansson threatened to sue a company that used her likeness to create an advert. The video allegedly included images produced by Lisa AI, but the company denied the allegations.

Recently, 200 artists signed a petition written by non-profit group Artists Rights Alliance to swear AI companies off exploiting artists’ voices and likenesses.

Drake faced a cease-and-desist from Tupac’s estate for using the late artist’s voice, sparking criticism regarding the impact on artists’ rights.

Also read: Sony Music Warns AI Companies Against Authorized Use of Content

Meanwhile, OpenAI announced in the May 20 blog that it would soon give access to a new voice mode for GPT-4o.

“With GPT-4o, using your voice to interact with ChatGPT is much more natural,” it said.

Cryptopolitan Reporting by Jeffrey Gogo

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