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Days earlier than OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant final week, the actress Scarlett Johansson mentioned, 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. Johansson mentioned in a press release on Monday, including that the reply each occasions was no.

Regardless of these refusals, Ms. Johansson mentioned, 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 release of “Sky” over the weekend. The corporate mentioned in a blog post on Sunday that “AI voices mustn’t intentionally mimic a celeb’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice 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 supplied the voice for an A.I. system within the Spike Jonze film “Her.” The movie advised 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 reasonable.

Final week, Mr. Altman appeared to nod to the similarity between OpenAI’s digital assistant and the movie in a post on X with the only phrase “her.”

OpenAI mentioned it couldn’t share the names of its voice professionals for privateness causes. It mentioned 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 vital juncture because it prepares to make its voice assistants accessible to clients with assist from its newest know-how, often called GPT-4o. On Monday night time, Mr. Altman mentioned in a press release that “the voice of Sky isn’t Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was by no means supposed to resemble hers.”

“We forged the voice actor behind Sky’s voice earlier than any outreach to Ms. Johansson,” he continued. “Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we’ve paused utilizing Sky’s voice in our merchandise. We’re 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 particular person 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 Instances, which sued OpenAI and its companion, Microsoft.

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

Earlier than changing into a Marvel superhero, Ms. Johansson made a reputation for herself within the 2003 movie “Misplaced in Translation” as a younger lady who fashioned an unlikely bond in Tokyo with a film star performed by Invoice 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 mentioned, Mr. Altman first reached out to her about offering her voice for OpenAI’s future assistant.

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

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

Mr. Chen then went by 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 may concurrently juggle audio, photographs and video so it may reply a written math query and reply to questions.

Afterward, Mr. Altman wrote in regards to the occasion on his personal blog, saying: “It seems like A.I. from the films; and it’s nonetheless a bit shocking to me that it’s actual.”

Ms. Johansson mentioned 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 Instances, 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, advised 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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