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Scarlett Johansson “shocked and angered” by OpenAI cloning her voice



Scarlett Johansson

In a shocking turn of events, acclaimed actress Scarlett Johansson has publicly called out OpenAI for its brazen attempt to replicate her distinctive voice for its latest chatbot system. The renowned star, known for her captivating performances, was left “shocked, angered, and in disbelief” when she discovered that the tech giant had pursued a voice eerily similar to her own, despite her explicit refusal to lend her voice to the project.

Johansson’s rejection and OpenAI’s persistence

It all began last September when OpenAI CEO Sam Altman reached out to Johansson, pitching the idea of her voicing the company’s upcoming ChatGPT 4.0 system. Altman believed that Johansson’s recognisable voice could help bridge the gap between the tech industry and creative professionals, making the seismic shift towards AI more palatable for consumers. However, after much consideration, Johansson declined the offer for personal reasons.

Nine months later, Johansson’s friends, family, and the general public were quick to notice the striking similarity between the newly introduced “Sky” voice in OpenAI’s GPT-4o demo and the actress’s own distinctive vocal timbre. Johansson was left “shocked, angered, and in disbelief” that Altman had pursued a voice so eerily akin to her own, to the point where even her closest confidants couldn’t tell the difference.

Adding insult to injury, Altman even seemed to acknowledge the intentional resemblance, tweeting a single word – “her” – a clear reference to the 2013 film in which Johansson voiced an AI companion named Samantha.

Johansson’s Legal Action and OpenAI’s Backpedaling

Faced with this unethical voice cloning, Johansson was forced to hire legal counsel to address the issue. Her lawyers wrote two letters to Altman and OpenAI, demanding an explanation for the process behind the creation of the “Sky” voice. Ultimately, the tech giant reluctantly agreed to take down the offending voice, acknowledging that it was not Johansson’s and that it was never intended to resemble hers.

Johansson’s ordeal has shone a spotlight on the pressing issue of deepfakes and the need for greater protection of individuals’ rights over their name, image, and likeness. In her statement, the actress emphasized the importance of transparency

and the passage of appropriate legislation to safeguard against such violations of personal identity.

The Ethical Dilemma Surrounding AI Voice Cloning

Johansson’s case has reignited the ongoing debate surrounding the ethical implications of AI voice cloning. While the technology holds immense potential, it also raises concerns about the misappropriation of individuals’ identities and the potential for abuse. As the lines between artificial and human voices continue to blur, the need for robust regulations and safeguards becomes increasingly urgent.

In her statement, Johansson has called for greater transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to protect individuals from having their name, image, or likeness misappropriated by AI systems. She believes that these are issues that “deserve absolute clarity” as society grapples with the rise of deepfakes and the blurring of boundaries between the digital and physical realms.

The Ongoing Battle for Digital Identity Rights

Johansson’s stance on this issue aligns with a growing chorus of voices advocating for stronger digital identity rights. As AI-powered technologies become more pervasive, the need to establish clear guidelines and legal frameworks to safeguard individual privacy and autonomy becomes paramount.

The Johansson-OpenAI saga has far-reaching implications for the entertainment industry, where the use of AI-generated voices and digital doubles is becoming increasingly common. Actors and other creative professionals will likely demand greater control and transparency over the use of their likenesses, posing new challenges for the industry.

Scarlett Johansson’s confrontation with OpenAI serves as a stark reminder of the need for ethical and responsible AI development. As the capabilities of these technologies continue to evolve, it is crucial that the rights and privacy of individuals are safeguarded, and that the pursuit of innovation is balanced with a deep respect for human autonomy and identity.