OpenAI says its pulling ChatGPT voice ‘Sky’ sounds like Scarlett Johansson

Topline

ChatGPT maker OpenAI said Monday it’s working to drop a voice that sounds like actress Scarlett Johansson, days after the company debuted its new AI voice assistant as part of a major upgrade to its flagship chatbot that rivals for example, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

Key facts

OpenAI said it is “working to pause the use” of one of the voices used in an audible version of ChatGPT in a post on X, formerly Twitter, early Monday morning.

“We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky,” OpenAI said, adding that the voice will be paused until it can answer the questions.

Sky is one of five voices that OpenAI debuted as part of its latest AI model, GPT-4o, which powers the company’s signature product ChatGPT and allows users to use their voice to interact with the bot and submit comments to receive in kind.

Sky attracted a lot of attention for her striking resemblance to Johansson, most notably her role as an AI voice assistant in the film Her.

OpenAI itself has acknowledged the vocal similarities between Sky and Johansson, but stressed that the voice “is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson” and belongs to “another professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.”

OpenAI CTO Mira Murati said that The Verge Sky is also not designed to sound like Johansson and that the company has been preparing the voices for some time.

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Crucial quote

OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman cryptically posted the word “her” on X after the update and votes were revealed. The tweet was widely received as a reference to the film in which Johansson lends her voice to the role of a virtual assistant. Altman has previously said that Her is one of his favorite films.

What we don’t know

While OpenAI is keen to rule out Johansson as a source for Sky, the company says it will not reveal the vocal talent powering the product. “To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents,” OpenAI wrote in a blog. The company emphasizes that it believes that “AI voices should not intentionally mimic the distinctive voice of a celebrity.”

News Peg

The GPT-4o upgrade is the latest version of OpenAI’s powerful GPT4 model, the driving force behind the ChatGPT chatbot. The company says the upgrade is faster and increases text, audio and visual functionality, and will be free for all users. The introduction of a voice assistant feature firmly entrenches the company as solid competition for tech giants, further increasing the threat it already poses in areas like generative AI and search engines. In particular, the voice assistant feature for ChatGPT puts OpenAI in more direct competition with the other digital voice assistants, including Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

What to pay attention to

To get the five voices, OpenAI said it “worked with leading casting and directing professionals to narrow down more than 400 submissions before the five voices were selected,” with actors flying to San Francisco for their recording sessions last June and July. They all received “above average rates” for their work, OpenAI said, adding that “even more” voice options will be launched in the future.

Tangent

Johansson has already been the subject of AI impersonation online. In November, she sued an AI app developer for using her name and likeness in an online ad and was reportedly recently named as examples along with Conan O’Brien and singer Ariana Grande in a proposed class action against an AI startup that was accused of embezzling celebrities. ‘ to vote.

Forbes rating

Altman has an estimated net worth of $1 billion. However, Altman’s fortune does not come from OpenAI, as he has no equity in the company, and instead he owes his fortune and billionaire status to a series of valuable investments. This includes stakes in recently launched Reddit, fintech Stripe and nuclear fusion effort Helion. Altman founded the social mapping company Loopt and was a partner and president at startup accelerator Y Combinator before starting OpenAI.

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