Scarlett Johansson Issues Statement About OpenAI Voice Controversy

OpenAI has suspended the "Sky" voice program amidst complaints it sounds like Scarlett Johansson.

There has been a ton of controversy surrounding all different forms of AI over the last year or so, and one of the latest issues is centering on voice likeness. People have noticed that the voice of the "Sky" program in OpenAI's ChatGPT 4.0 system sounds eerily similar to that of Scarlett Johansson, the popular actress who famously voiced an AI program in the Spike Jonze film Her. The similarities to Johansson's voice are so striking that those close to her have even been caught off-guard. The pushback from Johansson's legal team ultimately forced OpenAI to pull the voice of the "Sky" program, and Johansson is now opening up about the situation.

On Monday, Johansson released a statement about the entire OpenAI situation regarding her potential voice likeness. She confirms that she was initially approached to provide her voice likeness for the program but declined OpenAI's offer.

"Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system," Johansson said in the 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, declined the offer."

Johansson went on to say she was "shocked, angered and in disbelief" over the voice she heard in the ChatGPT system, remaking just how close to her own voice it was.

"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. Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the 'Sky' voice. 

"In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected."

OpenAI released its own statement after suspending the "Sky" voice in the wake of Johansson's letters. The company claims that the voice belongs to another actress using her "natural speaking voice."

"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 natural speaking voice," the company said. "To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents."