Scarlett Johansson quits 'outraged' by chatbot impersonation

image caption, Scarlett Johansson
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Scarlett Johansson 'surprised' by AI chatbot imitation

  • the author, Matt Murphy
  • the role, BBC News
  • Reporting from London

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has said she was “shocked” and “furious” after OpenAI launched a chatbot with a voice similar to hers.

The actress said she had previously rejected the company's approach to voice its new chatbot, which reads text aloud to users.

When the new model, called Sky, debuted last week, observers were quick to draw comparisons between the chatbot's tone and Johansson's in the 2013 film Heir.

OpenAI said on Monday it would remove the voice, but insisted it was not intended to “imitate” the star.

However, Johansson, in a statement seen by the BBC on Monday evening, accused the company and its founder Sam Altman of deliberately imitating her voice.

“When I heard the demo that was released, I was shocked, outraged and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that so closely resembled mine,” she wrote.

“Mr Altman even said the similarity was deliberate, tweeting the same word 'Her' – a reference to the film in which I voiced the chat system, Samantha, who forms a deep connection with a human. ”

The actress, who has been nominated for two Academy Awards, said she was initially approached by Mr. Altman to voice the new chatbot in September.

“[Mr Altman] Told me he felt that by giving my system a voice, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creators and help consumers get comfortable with the seismic shift in terms of humans and AI. ,” Johansen wrote.

“He said he thought my voice would comfort people.”

But he ultimately turned down the offer due to personal reasons.

Two days before the Sky chatbot was released, he added, Mr. Altman contacted his agent, urging Johansen to reconsider his initial refusal to cooperate with the company.

Stating that she was forced to hire lawyers, the actress said she had sent two legal letters to the company, to find out how the voice was produced.

“At a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and protecting our likeness, our work, our identity, I believe these are questions that deserve a thorough explanation,” he wrote.

In a statement shared with the BBC by OpenAI, Mr Altman denied that the company had tried to copy Johansson's voice.

“Sky's voice is not Scarlett Johansson's, and was never intended to resemble her,” he wrote.

“We cast the voice actor behind Skye's voice before reaching out to Ms. Johansen. Out of respect for Ms. Johansen, we have stopped using Skye's voice in our products. We apologize to Ms. Johansen. We didn't communicate better.”

Separately, the firm said it was “working to stop” the voice while it responded to questions about how it was chosen in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

In its blog post, OpenAI said the five voices used by its chatbot were sampled from voice actors it partnered with.

Johansson's legal threats come as the company faces several pending lawsuits.

In December, The New York Times said it planned to sue the corporation over allegations that it used “millions” of articles published by the media organization to train its ChatGPT AI model.

And in September, authors George RR Martin and John Grisham also announced plans to sue, alleging that their copyrights were infringed to train the system.

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