OpenAI is 'in conversations' with Scarlett Johansson over the ChatGPT voice that sounds just like her – The Verge

By Emilia David, a reporter who covers AI. Prior to joining The Verge, she covered the intersection between technology, finance, and the economy.
OpenAI says it has been in touch with representatives for Scarlett Johansson after the company pulled one of the voices on ChatGPT for sounding too similar to the actress.
“We’ve been in conversations with ScarJo’s team because there seems to be some confusion. We want to take the feedback seriously and hear out the concerns,” says Joanne Jang, model behavior lead at OpenAI. 
Johansson has since responded with a statement of her own, saying, “Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system… After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer. Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named “Sky” sounded like me.” Altman and OpenAI maintained that the voice of Sky “is not Scarlett Johansson’s” and said, “We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better.”
OpenAI pulled Sky, one of the default voices on ChatGPT, after it made headlines last week for sounding just like Johansson in her role as an intelligent voice assistant in the movie Her. OpenAI CTO Mira Murati told The Verge in an interview last week that the company did not intend to mimic Johansson’s sultry AI assistant.
Jang, who is part of the team that casts actors to provide voices to the chatbot, says that people may be hearing similarities between Johansson’s character and OpenAI’s voice because there are few examples of convincing female voice assistants around. Other voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa, “still sound robotic,” Jang says.
ChatGPT has had voices since last year, but Sky’s voice did not gain prominence until last week when the company made voice assistants more expressive through its GPT-4o model. Jang says users can prompt their chosen voice to have a personality, so Sky or any of the other voices on ChatGPT can be peppy, more measured, or even sad, depending on the user and the personality they most connect with.
“We want users to feel at ease,” Jang says, and customization is important to making the experience feel natural to users. “We know they want a product that [doesn’t make users] have to pretend to be someone else.”
Update, May 20th: Added excerpts of statements from Scarlett Johansson and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
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