OpenAI pulls ChatGPT voice that sounds like Scarlett Johansson amid controversy

The company has paused use of "Sky," insisting that is "not an imitation" of Johansson.

OpenAI has paused the use of Sky, a voice that generated controversy due to its likeness to Scarlett Johansson's emotive AI in Spike Jonze's Her, to address concerns.

"We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky," the company said on social media over the weekend, sharing a blog post that denied Sky was an imitation of the actress and explained its process of voice casting.

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OpenAI said they partnered with "independent, well-known, award-winning casting directors and producers" to create criteria for the voice actors, who they said receive compensation "above top-of-market rates" and will continue to do so "for as long as their voices are used in our products."

Addressing the controversy surrounding Sky, "We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice," ChatGPT said. "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 cannot share names of voice talents to protect their privacy, they said.

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty</p> Scarlett Johansson

Cindy Ord/Getty

Scarlett Johansson

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Per OpenAI, they met with 14 voice actors to to speak about the "vision for human-AI voice interactions and OpenAI, technology’s capabilities, limitations, and the risks involved, as well as the safeguards we have implemented" before selecting the five actors who would become the voices for Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper, and Sky.

Jonze's 2013 romance sci-fi Her starred Joaquin Phoenix as a man who develops a relationship with Johansson's AI Samantha. Upon the debut of the voice demos last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman — who has previously cited Her as one of his favorite movies — tweeted out the word "her."

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