Accused by Scarlett Johansson of having copied her voice, OpenAI suspends the use of a ChatGPT tone

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Scarlett Johansson, in Cannes, May 24, 2023. YARA NARDI / REUTERS

Some fans who imagined chatting with Scarlett Johansson will be disappointed. OpenAI announced, Monday, May 20, the suspension of “Sky”, one of the tones that interacts vocally with Internet users in ChatGPT, after the actress accused the American company and its general director, Sam Altman, of having knowingly copied his voice, without his knowledge.

“We’ve heard the questions about how we chose the voices for ChatGPT”pointed out OpenAI https://twitter.com/OpenAI/status/1792443575839678909. Therefore, “We are working to suspend the use of Sky while we respond”specifies the company. “Sky’s voice is in no way an imitation of Scarlett Johansson’s”however assured OpenAI in an article posted on its blog, ensuring that it had been developed based on the voices of different actresses.

But the actress explained the process that led her to hire a lawyer to get her voice changed. ” In September [2023]I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to be the voice of the current ChatGPT 4.0 system »she said in a press release published late Monday. “He said he thought my voice would comfort people”she detailed, emphasizing that she then “declined the offer”.

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“My closest friends couldn’t tell the difference”

“When I heard the demo released, I was shocked, angry and in disbelief that Mr. Altman had developed a voice that sounded so eerily like mine that my closest friends and the media couldn’t do the difference “, says the actress. She adds that “Mr Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word, ‘Her’”. Scarlett Johansson had indeed played the voice of the artificial intelligence system in the film Her (Elle), from whom the creators of ChatGPT have not hidden their inspiration.

The actress explains that she then “was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI (…). Therefore, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to remove the Sky voice”.

“At a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and protecting our own image, our own work, our own identity, I think these issues deserve absolute clarity”she lamented again, saying she was waiting “impatiently” to be adopted “appropriate legislation to help ensure the protection of individual rights”.

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OpenAI, for its part, detailed how it worked, with professional actors, to create several digital voices, which it called Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and, therefore, Sky.

Departure of an OpenAI co-founder

This announcement comes days after OpenAI announced it was disbanding its team whose mission was to mitigate the possible long-term dangers of overly intelligent AI. The announcement was marked by the departure of one of the company’s co-founders, Ilya Sutskever, as well as the head of the team, Jan Leike.

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“OpenAI must become a company that puts general AI security above all other considerations”Mr. Leike wrote on Friday on X. Sam Altman expressed his regret at seeing him leave, adding that he “right, we need to do more, that’s our goal”.

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The company presented on Monday the new version of its flagship product, with GPT-4o, with improved performance and behavior that is intended to be closer to humans, also making it free for all users. “In the future, you can expect even more options as we plan to add voices to ChatGPT to better meet diverse user interests and preferences.”added OpenAI on its blog.

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