Scarlett Johansson claims ChatGPT CEO used her voice without permission in romance film

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Lawyers for actress Scarlett Johansson are asking OpenAI to disclose how an artificial intelligence personal assistant voice was developed, as Johansson believes the company used her voice without her permission. 

Her legal team has sent two letters to OpenAI, the AI company that owns ChatGPT, asking it to disclose how it developed the voice named “Sky.” Johansson said she was asked by the company’s CEO, Sam Altman, for permission to use her voice, to which she said “no.”

“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 A.I.,” the statement released Monday said.

“He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people. After much consideration and for personal reasons, I 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,” it continued.

Scarlett Johansson claims ChatGPT CEO used her voice without permission in romance film
Scarlett Johansson attends the God’s Love We Deliver Golden Heart Awards at The Glasshouse on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

She said she was “shocked” when she heard the voice, which she says sounds “eerily similar” to her own, and that Altman referenced the movie Her, in which her voice is used to play a chat system with which a man falls in love.

“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’s statement said.

Johansson claims that two days before Sky’s voice was released, Altman contacted her agent to ask her to “reconsider” the offer. She said before she could talk with Altman, “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 OpenAI, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice,” The statement said. She also said OpenAI “reluctantly” agreed to take down the voice. 

Johansson cites the rise of deepfakes — videos in which a real person, oftentimes celebrities or politicians, are manipulated using AI to say typically false information — as one of the reasons for her concern over the system using her 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,” the statement said.

In a statement, OpenAI said it used the voice of another actress, whose identity it did not reveal for privacy reasons. 

“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 own natural speaking voice,” the company said

Annabella Rosciglione
Annabella Rosciglione
Breaking News Reporter. Annabella is a graduate of UW-Madison where she worked at the Daily Cardinal reporting on Wisconsin politics.

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