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OpenAI Pauses Controversial AI Voice Amid Scarlett Johansson Comparisons

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ChatGPT Paused ‘Sky’ Voice

OpenAI, the artificial intelligence company behind the wildly popular ChatGPT, has temporarily paused the use of one of its new AI-generated voices after users pointed out its uncanny resemblance to Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.

The voice in question, dubbed "Sky," was one of five new AI-powered voices launched last week as part of OpenAI's major upgrade to ChatGPT called GPT-4o. This new model allows users to interact with the chatbot using natural voice commands and receive spoken responses.

However, Sky's sultry tones immediately drew comparisons to Johansson's voice work as an AI assistant in the 2013 film Her. OpenAI acknowledged the likeness but insisted Sky's voice belongs to "a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice."

"We've heard questions about how we chose the voices in ChatGPT, especially Sky. We're working to pause the use of Sky until we can respond properly," OpenAI stated on X, formerly Twitter.

The controversy highlights concerns about AI models replicating real individuals' voices, faces or personal details without consent. While OpenAI claims it did not deliberately mimic Johansson, the resemblance raises ethical questions about the emerging AI voice technology.

In a blog post, OpenAI provided details on the extensive five-month process of partnering with casting directors, voice actors and the creative community to develop the AI voices for GPT-4o. Over 400 submissions were reviewed before selecting the final five performers, who each received "above top-of-market rates."

"We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice," OpenAI stated, adding it cannot reveal the voice actors' names to protect their privacy.

As AI assistants become more humanlike, issues around data privacy, consent and potential exploitation of performers' likenesses will likely intensify.

OpenAI has paused Sky's use for now, but the company plans to introduce even more AI voice options for ChatGPT paid users in the future.

"We plan to give access to a new Voice Mode for GPT-4o(opens in a new window) in alpha to ChatGPT Plus users in the coming weeks".

Voice reading problem on Web and App version

Apart from this controversy, many users have reported that they were having issues with the voice features.

One plus user reported that even after switching multiple browsers he/she is facing the issue with the voice feature on the web, while another plus user reported that he is receiving the error message “Connection failed. Tap to retry” in the iOS app, even though his internet connection is working.

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