Scarlett Johansson Says She Declined ChatGPT’s Proposal to Use Her Voice for AI – But They Used a Soundalike Anyway: ‘I Was Shocked’

OpenAI denies allegations that it used the actress’ voice for its Sky tool, but proceeded to suspend it on Monday

Scarlett Johansson attends the Clooney Foundation for Justice's 2023 Albie Awards in New York City
Scarlett Johansson attends the Clooney Foundation for Justice's 2023 Albie Awards in New York City (Credit: Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Scarlett Johansson said she was “shocked” that Sam Altman of ChatGPT created an AI voice that sounded “eerily” like her after she declined to voice the system herself.

The “Black Widow” actress issued a statement on Monday in which she said Altman re-upped his offer for her to officially lend her voice to his product after the Sky demo was already out. Instead, she had lawyers write to him demanding he explain the inspiration behind the AI voice. In the statement, she references the 2013 Spike Jonze movie “Her,” in which she voiced an AI named Samantha.

Earlier on Monday, OpenAI issued a statement denying they had copied Johansson: “Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress,” though they agreed to take the demo down.

Here is Johansson’s full statement:

“Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. 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 Al. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people. After much consideration and for personal reasons, 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. 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 | voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.

Two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, Mr. Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there. As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAl, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice.

Consequently, OpenAl 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.”


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