Scarlett Johansson Says She Was ‘Shocked’ and ‘Angered’ Over OpenAI’s Use of a Voice That Was ‘Eerily Similar to Mine’
Actor Scarlett Johansson said she turned down OpenAI‘s request for her to lend her voice to a conversational ChatGPT system — and that she was “shocked” and “angered” that the company went ahead and used a voice that sounded very similar to hers anyway.

Johansson, in a statement provided to Variety, said her lawyers contacted OpenAI to have the voice of Sky, one of the new voices in the GPT-4o chatbot, pulled down. OpenAI introduced the Sky voice, which sounded very like that of Johansson’s disembodied AI companion in Spike Jonze’s 2013 movie “Her,” in a demo of GPT-4o. The company earlier Monday said it would “pause” the use of the Sky voice.

Johansson said she had been contacted by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in September 2023 about the company hiring her to provide the voice for ChatGPT 4.0. She said she declined for “personal reasons.” “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,” Johansson said. “Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’ — a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.” According to Johansson, two days before OpenAI staged the ChatGPT 4.0 demo, Altman contacted her agent, “asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there.”

Johansson called for legislation that would protect individuals from having their name, image or likeness misappropriated. “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,” she said. “I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her
Last week, the company released a chatbot with an option that sounded like the actress, who provided the voice of an A.I. system in the movie “Her.”

Days before OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant last week, the actress Scarlett Johansson said, Sam Altman, the company’s chief executive, called her agent and asked that she consider licensing her voice for a virtual assistant. It was his second request to the actress in the past year, Ms. Johansson said in a statement on Monday, adding that the reply both times was no. Despite those refusals, Ms. Johansson said, OpenAI used a voice that sounded “eerily similar to mine.” She has hired a lawyer and asked OpenAI to stop using a voice it called “Sky.”

Scarlett Johansson’s Agent Tells OpenAI to ‘Slow Down’ to Ensure Products Get Built ‘Transparently, Ethically and Responsibly’
“How these companies align with the actual individuals and creators is what’s key here — the verification of authenticity and receiving consent, and remuneration for consent,” CAA’s Lourd said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal Thursday. “It’s not too late for these companies to slow down and put processes in place to ensure that the products that are being built are built transparently, ethically and responsibly,” Lourd added.

OpenAI’s Long-Term AI Risk Team Has Disbanded
The entire OpenAI team focused on the existential dangers of AI has either resigned or been absorbed into other research groups, WIRED has confirmed.

In July last year, OpenAI announced the formation of a new research team that would prepare for the advent of supersmart artificial intelligence capable of outwitting and overpowering its creators. Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and one of the company’s cofounders, was named as the colead of this new team. OpenAI said the team would receive 20 percent of its computing power.

Now OpenAI’s “superalignment team” is no more, the company confirms. That comes after the departures of several researchers involved, Tuesday’s news that Sutskever was leaving the company, and the resignation of the team’s other colead. The group’s work will be absorbed into OpenAI’s other research efforts.

Sutskever’s departure made headlines because although he’d helped CEO Sam Altman start OpenAI in 2015 and set the direction of the research that led to ChatGPT, he was also one of the four board members who fired Altman in November. Altman was restored as CEO five chaotic days later after a mass revolt by OpenAI staff and the brokering of a deal in which Sutskever and two other company directors left the board.


Image courtesy beamstart.com and Jim Wilson /The New York Times / Redux

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