OpenAI steals Scarlett Johansson's voice

Scarlett Johansson claims that OpenAI created a replica of her voice for its ChatGPT voice, Sky, and in response, OpenAI has removed it

Martin Crowley
May 21, 2024

Actress Scarlett Johansson claimed that OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, asked her to be the voice of “Sky”, one of the voice options available under the AI voice feature, which rolled out last September.

Altman reportedly wanted to use her voice as he believed it “would be comforting to people" and “bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives.

But, after careful consideration, Johansson declined.

OpenAI then went on to create an exact replica, using it to demonstrate the capabilities of its newest flagship model, GPT-4o, last week, with many viewers noticing the similarities.

Johansson, “shocked, angered and in disbelief” over how “eerily similar” Sky’s voice is to hers, has hired legal counsel and written two letters to OpenAI asking for a “resolution in the form of transparency” on how the voice of Sky was made.  

How has OpenAI responded?

Altman has issued a statement, reassuring people that Sky was not intended to imitate any celebrity and is the voice of a professional actress, which he won’t name for privacy reasons.

“The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers. We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson.”

He also said OpenAI would be pausing the use of Sky while it addresses questions about how it chooses its voices, especially Sky’s.

“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.”

According to an OpenAI blog post, they took five months to choose their five ChatGPT voices, and vetted over 400 actors voices to find ones that were “warm, engaging, confidence-inspiring, charismatic, approachable and inspire trust.”