OpenAI Retires ChatGPT Voice “Sky” Amid Resemblance Controversy with Scarlett Johansson

Written by Jeremy Werner

Jeremy is an experienced journalists, skilled communicator, and constant learner with a passion for storytelling and a track record of crafting compelling narratives. He has a diverse background in broadcast journalism, AI, public relations, data science, and social media management.
Posted on 05/21/2024
In News

In a move responding to escalating concern, OpenAI has announced the discontinuation of “Sky,” one of the audio voices of its latest AI model, ChatGPT-4o, after users noted its similarity to Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of an AI system in the 2013 film “Her.” The decision to pull the voice was confirmed through a post on the social media platform X, where OpenAI acknowledged the resemblance had raised questions and stated they were pausing its use to address these concerns.


This controversy arose shortly after OpenAI, a leader in the generative AI space, showcased a new range of audio capabilities for ChatGPT during a live presentation. The demonstration highlighted five distinct voices—Breeze, Cove, Ember, Juniper, and Sky—developed from around 400 submissions by voice actors. However, it was “Sky” that caught the audience’s attention for its uncanny resemblance to Johansson’s voice in “Her,” a connection further fueled by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s cryptic reference to the movie in a social media post.


In a statement shared with USAToday and other media outlets, Johansson stated “When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference.” Johansson added that “Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’ – a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.”


In efforts to clarify the situation, OpenAI released a blog post detailing the selection process for these voices, emphasizing that “Sky” was voiced by a professional actress using her own voice, not an imitation of Johansson. The company also noted its plans to continue testing Voice Mode, promising early access to ChatGPT Plus subscribers and the addition of new voices in the near future.


The latest dust-up comes amidst concerns around the world about the use of deepfakes, from the U.S. to Europe, and even amongst entertainment industry leaders.


While most deepfake legislation has been piecemeal, the EU AI Act will have the most significant impact on the use of deepfake technology by imposing strict transparency requirements. According to the Act, providers and deployers of AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio, or video content to create deepfakes must clearly disclose that the content has been artificially created or manipulated. This obligation to label deepfake content aims to inform and protect users by ensuring they are aware of the artificial nature of the content they are viewing.


The Act stipulates that any AI-generated or manipulated content that could be mistaken for authentic must be accompanied by a disclosure of its artificial origin. This is particularly crucial for content that closely resembles real individuals or could be perceived as genuine. However, the regulation provides some flexibility for content that is clearly artistic, satirical, or fictional. In these cases, the disclosure requirement is designed to avoid interfering with the content’s artistic or entertainment value while still informing the audience of its artificial nature .


This OpenAI incident comes at a time when AI technology’s impact on privacy, copyright, and personal identity is under intense scrutiny, highlighted by 2023’s Hollywood strikes over AI-generated content. Johansson’s concern about the use of her voice is a sentiment that resonates with ongoing debates about the ethical use of celebrity likenesses and voices in AI applications without explicit consent.




Keeping track of the everchanging AI landscape can be tough, especially if you have questions and concerns about how it will impact you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to BABL AI. Their Audit Experts are ready to provide valuable assistance.


Photo of Actress Scarlett Johansson attends ‘Under The Skin’ Premiere during the 70th Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2013 in Venice, Italy — Photo by arp on

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