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OpenAI Pulls ChatGPT Voice that sounds Like Scarlett Johansson in Her

OpenAI Pulls ChatGPT Voice that sounds Like Scarlett Johansson in Her

When the generative artificial intelligence startup OpenAI released a demo of its new ChatGPT 4o model last week, it included extensive video of its “Voice Mode,” which features an emotive voice answering user questions.

While there are a number of voices available, viewers noticed that one of them, “Sky,” sounded suspiciously like actress Scarlett Johansson, who portrayed the voice of an emotive AI in the 2013 film Her (in fact, OpenAI founder Sam Altman posted “her” on X during the demo).

Now, OpenAI says that it is “pausing” the use of the Sky voice as it seeks to address the concerns from users about such a familiar voice being used.

“We’ve heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky,” the company posted Monday morning. “We are working to pause the use of Sky while we address them.”

In a blog post, the company acknowledged the concerns, and explained its process for creating the voices, noting that it ran an extensive casting process

“We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice,” the blog post said. “To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents.”

OpenAI says that it began working with “well-known, award-winning” casting directors and producers in early 2023 to identify different voice actors that could become the voices in the product, and received over 400 submissions. That list was whittled down to 14.

“We spoke with each actor about the vision for human-AI voice interactions and OpenAI, and discussed the technology’s capabilities, limitations, and the risks involved, as well as the safeguards we have implemented. It was important to us that each actor understood the scope and intentions of Voice Mode before committing to the project,” the blog post continued, adding that they would eventually settle on the five final voices.

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Those actors flew to San Francisco, where the company led recording sessions, before releasing the voices into ChatGPT last fall.

The tech company says that it will add new voices to the platform over time.

“We support the creative community and worked closely with the voice acting industry to ensure we took the right steps to cast ChatGPT’s voices,” it said in the blog post. “Each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products.”

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