Last week, ChatGPT briefly showcased a real-life demo of 2013’s “Her,” starring Scarlett Johansson, during the preview of its new model. In an interesting turn, one of the application’s emotive voices sounded like Scarlett Johansson, sparking new controversy over the ethical use of artificial intelligence.

For the uninitiated, in September 2023, Johansson was approached to lend her voice to ChatGPT’s chatbot Sky, but she refused. Reportedly, Open AI used a voice that resembled the actress’s voice.

In response to the clarification of the controversy, Open AI noted in a recent blog post that one of ChatGPT-4o’s emotive voices, Sky, is not an imitation of actor Scarlett Johansson’s.

In its latest update, the AI chatbot recently released a demo that teased a new interactive feature with five emotive voices. Soon after its release, many people claimed to see a resemblance between Sky and Samantha OS, who was voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the 2013 film “Her.”

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has also referenced the film in an X post after the ChatGPT-4o demo launched, which further fueled the comparison. OpenAI says it is addressing the issue after it pulled Sky’s voice from the emotive options.

While acknowledging the concern surrounding the AI controversy, OpenAI clarified that Sky was voiced by a different actor, stating,

“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.”

Further, the company explained, “To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents.”

Voice actors were chosen through a rigorous casting process that reviewed over 400 initial submissions, narrowing them down to 14 candidates. The final five actors were flown in for two months of intensive recording sessions, resulting in the emotive voices of Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper, and Sky.

Artificial intelligence has been a topic of debate in the Hollywood industry

For some, AI has become a boon, while for others, it is nothing less than a bane. In the Hollywood industry, AI is a debatable topic, as it poses a threat to jobs. Last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA demanded clear-cut and ethical rules on AI use (among other petitions). Meanwhile, industry stakeholders have polarizing views on AI’s impact on TV and movie productions. However, the main threat of being replaced by AI is to writers and actors who have asserted previously that the technology is being used to the detriment of their livelihoods.

If you remember, recent news has introduced us to the term ‘Deepfake,’ in which some actors’ likenesses are digitally captured and reused without their explicit permission.

OpenAI’s proactive stance on the ChatGPT-4o issue is a step in the right direction. It states that “each actor receives compensation above top-of-market rates, and this will continue for as long as their voices are used in our products.

OpenAI plans to roll out an alpha build of its Chat GPT-4o Voice Mode in the coming weeks.

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