AI chatbot imitation shocks Hollywood star, Scarlett Johansson



Getty Images Scarlett Johansson speaks on US TV © Getty Images
Scarlett Johansson

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has expressed shock and anger after OpenAI launched a chatbot (c)  with an "eerily similar" voice to her own. The actress had previously turned down an approach by the company to voice its new chatbot, which reads text aloud to users. When the new model debuted last week, commentators quickly drawn comparisons between the chatbot's "Sky" voice and Johansson's in the 2013 film Her. OpenAI said on Monday that it would remove the voice, but insisted that it was not meant to be an "imitation" of the star.

Johansson accused the company and its founder Sam Altman of deliberately copying her voice, in a statement seen by the BBC on Monday evening. She had been initially approached by Altman about voicing the new chatbot in September. Altman contacted her agent, urging Johansson to reconsider her initial refusal to co-operate with the company. She had been forced to hire lawyers, and she had sent two legal letters to the company to establish how the voice had been made.

OpenAI denied that the company had sought to imitate Johansson's voice. "The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson's, and it was never intended to resemble hers," he wrote. "We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn't communicate better."

OpenAI has been battling various legal challenges to how it uses copyrighted information available online. In December, the New York Times said it planned to launch a lawsuit against the corporation over allegations that it had used "millions" of articles published by the media organisation to train its ChatGPT AI model. In September, authors George RR Martin and John Grisham also announced a plan to pursue a claim, over allegations their copyright had been infringed to train the system.

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