The Memo: ChatGPT accused of imitating Scarlett Johansson's voice for its chatbot

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ChatGPT accused of imitating Scarlett Johansson's voice for its chatbot

Tyler Rigby - 3 June 2024

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has expressed her anger and dismay towards OpenAI’s Sky voice, which has been noted as sounding eerily similar to that of the actressInterestingly, OpenAI’s founder Sam Altman had approached the actress to get her permission to use her voice for the system, so this hardly feels like a coincidence. 

Regardless, Johansson turned down Altman’s offer, and the actress and other commentators on social media have suggested that OpenAI went ahead without her consent and used her voice for the program. It's worth noting that this has all been unfolding just six months after the end of a historic industry strike where both actors and film writers were fighting for, among other things, specific protections against AI encroachment into creative spaces.  

Altman and OpenAI have denied any intentional similarity between Johansson’s voice and that of the chatbot, but they have taken it down for the time being. This, they claim, is out of respect for Johansson. As it stands, AI deepfakes are hard to prosecute as they lack inherent copyright protection. With a growing number of copyright claims being made against artificially created likenesses of well-known figures, this is another wrinkle in the developing legal relationship between tech companies and creatives.