vampires need to suck our blood

Scarlett Johansson’s voice would just be a product that we can pay to sell another.images: getty, editing: watson


Scarlett Johansson’s voice would just be a product that we can pay to sell another. At least that’s what Sam Altman and his new version of ChatGPT imply, since he wanted to “comfort” us by pumping up Hollywood and the star got angry. A deserved spanking and a controversy which is not devoid of sadness.

“We imagine a future where everyone is able to make music.” It was not David Guetta who said this sentence, but Mikey Shulman, co-founder and CEO of Suno. His company has just raised $125 million. With Suno, we just need to type a few keywords to “compose” a song in six seconds flat.

We know it, we just tried.

Verdict? It’s bullshit. An unfortunate mix between Natasha St-Pier, a nursery rhyme that ends badly and an unblocked sink. But, technically, it works.

The keywords in question:

“A pop refrain that talks about a romantic breakup, with a woman’s voice”

Want to listen? It’s here.

The same week, we learned that to give a little soul to one of these voices that will never exist, the boss of ChatGPT tried to buy the stamp of actress Scarlett Johansson. After “careful consideration” and an offer that one can easily imagine as generous, she refused (on several occasions) to bury her very special imprint in a machine about which we know nothing.

Was Sam Altman offended? Did he just not care? Still, by unveiling the umpteenth new version of ChatGPT, people close to Scarlett recognized her in the virtual throat of someone called Sky. As if shooting himself in the foot, the artificial guru published a simple “her”, on the X platform, to celebrate the release of his toy.

A gesture, like a “prophetic” homage to the Spike Jonze film, his “favorite”, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with a synthetic intelligence, played by… Scarlett Johansson.


We can understand Sam, since even the casting director of her “favorite film” understands it: “She has a voice that you can’t copy. If I were one of those AI specialists, I too would want Scarlett on my phone,” confesses Cassandra Kulukundis in the Daily Beast.

Unfortunately for him, Sky is the limit.

While their lawyers are in the process of buying a fourth country house while trying to resolve the dispute amicably, Sam Altman has turned off his voice, reluctantly and after only three days of loyal service. Luckily, we were able to spend a few hours with “her” before she was fired. Scarlett or not, we’re still nimble enough to know we’re not chatting with a movie star.

In the small opaque world of generative AI, Scarlett is the thorn in the side, the tree that hides the forest, the hospital that doesn’t care about charity. The star’s accusation (and determination) proves at least four things: the feeling of impunity of tech moguls, their crass inability to follow the lines of code of any philosophy, the need to humanize Frankenstein to tame the anxious crowds and, finally, perhaps the most worrying: Sam Altman didn’t understand anything about his “favorite film”.

“He told me he thought my voice would be comforting to people.”

Scarlett, about Sam Altman’s phone call

It’s completely absurd to have to write it, but Scarlett Johansson is not Scarlett Johansson by the involuntary grace of her voice. Noting that Sam Altman refuses (voluntarily) to recognize the talent, the spirit and the work hidden behind the actress says nothing of value. On the other hand, the alleged bravado of the boss of OpenAI reveals his fear of losing the trust of a clientele frightened in advance by the appetite of little geniuses.

For the recent hit machine, as for ChatGPT, we have reached such a degree of pumping of other people’s work that they no longer even bother to feign empathy. The future is coming and OpenAI would kill to be the architect of the future. The little music that makes its way advises us to climb on the train before it goes too fast. To grab a few dollars before having your archives and wallet eaten. To fight major slip-ups, but to accept that this gold rush is irrepressible.

The complaint of New York Times and contracts signed by News Corp, PoliticoAxel Springer, Associated Press, Dotdash Meredith and Reddit are two antagonisms, among hundreds of others, that tell the story of the runaway.

Today, a few snatches of voice, thousands of refrains already recorded and the entire thesis of a brave Harvard doctoral student are enough for the infernal monster to shake like a washing machine before spitting out a “work” allowing Bernard to feel himself growing wings behind his screen. Like a cocktail glass manufacturer convinced he can revolutionize the world of Spritz by pumping it for free into the sparkling vats of all the winegrowers on the planet.

“I feel like I can be anything with you.”

Joaquin Phoenix voices Scarlett Johansson in the film Her.

But perhaps there is something sadder. Because the idea is also to spare us the slightest effort, to relieve ourselves of know-how that would otherwise be considered cumbersome. And to pretend that we are now all capable, without any distinction, of carrying out any task. To realize that the plan is lousy, you just have to imagine Daft Punk on a construction site or Roger Federer at Drouant, receiving the Goncourt prize.

This is the expert level of robotic management, which consists of instilling the lazy belief that our abilities are interchangeable at will. Artificial intelligence, like an augmented version of the fantasy of collective intelligence, with the help of a new machine. And that all this would be horizontal, benevolent, beneficial, democratic.

However, there is nothing more vertical than wanting to crush skills. Apple recently realized this against its will, taking a general spanking after its ridiculous advertising for the new iPad.

If artificial intelligence will undoubtedly save lives, improve daily lives, simplify procedures, disrupt interactions, blow up some bullshit jobs, repair the ozone layer and, who knows, even resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tech vampires will always need to suck some of our blood to survive. For this alone, the architects of the future, who are not devoid of courage, vision and talent, are wrong to think that arrogance is an asset.

“We imagine a future where everyone would be able to make music,” assures us the CEO of Suno. It’s a lie. We know, we just tried: we only generated a rather mediocre random chorus, made up of thousands of existing melodies. “Generate” could well be the verb of our time.

Because Sam Altman wanted to do the same thing by tapping his foot like a kid to “own” Scarlett Johansson’s voice.

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