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Scarlett Johansson Said No, however OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her

Scarlett Johansson Said No, however OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her


Days earlier than OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant final week, the actress Scarlett Johansson stated, Sam Altman, the corporate’s chief govt, referred to as her agent and requested that she contemplate licensing her voice for a digital assistant.

It was his second request to the actress previously 12 months, Ms. Johannson stated in a press release on Monday, including that the reply each instances was no.

Despite these refusals, Ms. Johansson stated, OpenAI used a voice that sounded “eerily just like mine.” She has employed a lawyer and requested OpenAI to cease utilizing a voice it referred to as “Sky.”

OpenAI suspended its launch of “Sky” over the weekend. The firm stated in a weblog put up on Sunday that “AI voices shouldn’t intentionally mimic a star’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice just isn’t an imitation of Scarlett Johansson however belongs to a distinct skilled actress utilizing her personal pure talking voice.”

For Ms. Johansson, the episode has been a surreal case of life-imitating artwork. In 2013, she offered the voice for an A.I. system within the Spike Jonze film “Her.” The movie instructed the story of a lonely introvert seduced by a digital assistant named Samantha, a tragic commentary on the potential pitfalls of know-how because it turns into extra practical.

Last week, Mr. Altman appeared to nod to the similarity between OpenAI’s digital assistant and the movie in a put up on X with the one phrase “her.”

OpenAI stated it couldn’t share the names of its voice professionals for privateness causes. It stated it had labored with unidentified administrators and producers to develop 5 voices for its product: Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper and Sky. The voices had been recorded final summer time in San Francisco.

OpenAI is at an essential juncture because it prepares to make its voice assistants obtainable to prospects with help from its newest know-how, generally known as GPT-4o. On Monday evening, Mr. Altman stated in a press release that “the voice of Sky just isn’t Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was by no means supposed to resemble hers.”

“We solid the voice actor behind Sky’s voice earlier than any outreach to Ms. Johansson,” he continued. “Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have now paused utilizing Sky’s voice in our merchandise. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t talk higher.”

Ms. Johansson’s assertion was reported earlier by NPR’s Bobby Allyn.

She is the newest high-profile individual to accuse OpenAI of utilizing inventive work with out permission. Over the previous 12 months, OpenAI has been sued for copyright violations by authors, actors and newspapers, together with the Authors Guild of America and The New York Times, which sued OpenAI and its associate, Microsoft.

It is the second time lately that Ms. Johannson has taken a public stand towards a outstanding firm. In 2021, she sued the Walt Disney Company, accusing it of breaching her contract as a result of it launched the movie “Black Widow” concurrently in theaters and on Disney+. Ms. Johannson, who has performed the Marvel character Black Widow in eight blockbuster movies, reached a settlement with the corporate.

Before changing into a Marvel superhero, Ms. Johansson made a reputation for herself within the 2003 movie “Lost in Translation” as a younger girl who shaped an unlikely bond in Tokyo with a film star performed by Bill Murray. She has constantly bounced between extra clever fare from administrators resembling Wes Anderson and Hollywood blockbusters like “The Avengers.” In 2020, she was nominated for 2 Academy Awards for “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

In September, Ms. Johansson stated, Mr. Altman first reached out to her about offering her voice for OpenAI’s future assistant.

“He instructed me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I might bridge the hole between tech firms and creatives and assist shoppers to really feel comfy with the seismic shift regarding people and A.I,” she stated in her assertion. “He stated he felt that my voice could be comforting to individuals.”

Last week, OpenAI unveiled that assistant throughout a sophisticated product occasion in San Francisco. Mark Chen, an organization analysis lead, instructed the assistant that he was nervous to be doing a stay demo. With the peppiness of a cheerleader, the assistant stated: “Oh, you’re doing a stay demo proper now? That’s superior!”

Mr. Chen then went by means of a prolonged demonstration, displaying how OpenAI had mixed the conversational expertise of its ChatGPT chatbot with the sound of a voice assistant just like the iPhone’s Siri. OpenAI’s assistant might concurrently juggle audio, photos and video so it might reply a written math query and reply to questions.

Afterward, Mr. Altman wrote concerning the occasion on his private weblog, saying: “It appears like A.I. from the films; and it’s nonetheless a bit stunning to me that it’s actual.”

Ms. Johansson stated she had heard from buddies, household and the general public that the voice talking to Mr. Chen sounded identical to hers. Alissa Wilkinson, a film critic for The Times, wrote that the assistant’s voice betrayed “a little bit of Johansson’s clear, low tone and a touch of vocal fry.”

In an interview after the occasion, Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief know-how officer, instructed The Verge that the similarities to Ms. Johansson’s voice had been incidental, and that the voice wasn’t designed to sound just like the actress.

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