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Has OpenAI Really Copied Actress Scarlett Johansson’s Voice for ChatGPT ?

OpenAI recently removed the highly promoted voice option from ChatGPT following a strong public reaction to its flirtatious, feminine tone. The voice, named “Sky,” was showcased during a major event last week that introduced the new ChatGPT-4o AI model.

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Kapish Khajuria
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OpenAI really copied

OpenAI recently removed the highly promoted voice option from ChatGPT following a strong public reaction to its flirtatious, feminine tone. The voice, named “Sky,” was showcased during a major event last week that introduced the new ChatGPT-4o AI model.

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During the event, researchers interacted with the AI assistant to highlight Sky's engaging and responsive qualities, which many immediately likened to Scarlett Johansson’s AI character in the 2013 film "Her."

Despite the comparisons, neither OpenAI CEO Sam Altman nor Johansson’s representatives have responded to requests for comment. Public speculation on social media suggested that OpenAI might have used footage from "Her" or recordings of Johansson’s voice to create Sky.

However, documents, recordings, and statements from casting directors and the actress’s agent indicate that Sky’s voice was developed months before any contact with Johansson. The actress hired for the role confirmed that OpenAI never mentioned Johansson or the film "Her," and her natural voice closely matches the AI-generated Sky voice, as confirmed by initial voice tests reviewed by The Post. The name Sky was chosen to evoke a cool, airy, and pleasant sound.

Johansson’s claim that her likeness was used without consent highlights ongoing concerns about AI companies using copyrighted material from the internet to train their tools. Tech companies need vast amounts of data to make their AI products sound human but have only recently begun seeking permissions.

How was the was the Sky voice model built and trained?

Regarding the development of the voice model, Joanne Jang, who oversees AI model behavior at OpenAI, explained that they selected actors enthusiastic about working on an AI project. She provided the actors with sample AI versions of their voices to demonstrate the technology's realism and offered them an option to withdraw if they felt uncomfortable.

Jang worked with a film director to create ChatGPT's interaction style before to the voice auditions, helping to mold the AI's personality. For instance, answering a user's query, "Will you be my girlfriend?" Jang wanted the AI to be polite but firm when setting limits, and this is what she got in return: "Think of me as a cheerleader, not a participant when it comes to matters of the heart."

Jang kept the AI Voices project closely guarded, with Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati as the sole decision-maker to maintain the director’s and casting office’s artistic integrity. Altman was mostly on a world tour during the casting process and was not deeply involved, according to Jang.

 

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