Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has said she was left “shocked” and “angered” after OpenAI launched a chatbot with an “eerily similar” voice to her own.

The actress said she had previously turned down an approach by the company to voice its new chatbot, which reads text aloud to users.

OpenAI says it will remove one of the voices used by ChatGPT after it was likened to Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.

Users spotted the similarity in the chatbot’s “Sky” voice option, which reads responses aloud to users, when OpenAI showcased features of its new model.

The flirty, conversational upgrade to its AI chatbot drew comparisons to the 2013 film “Her”, starring the actress.

OpenAI said the voices available in ChatGPT’s voice mode were “carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months involving professional voice actors, talent agencies, casting directors, and industry advisors”.

>>However, Johansson accused the company, and its founder Sam Altman, of deliberately copying her voice, in a statement obtained by the BBC on Monday evening.

“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,” she wrote.

“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.”

“[Mr Altman] told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI,” Johansson wrote.

“He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people.”

But she eventually rejected the offer for personal reasons, she said.

Two days before the Sky chatbot was released, she added, Mr Altman contacted her agent, urging Johansson to reconsider her initial refusal to cooperate with the company.

Adding that she had been forced to hire lawyers, the actress said she had sent two legal letters to the company, to establish how the voice had been made.

“In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity,” she wrote.

In November, Ms Johansson reportedly took legal action, external against an artificial intelligence (AI) app which used her likeness without permission in an advert.

OpenAI said on Monday its “Sky” voice is not intended to be an “imitation” of the star.

“We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice,” it said in a blog post, external.

The firm said it is “working to pause” the voice while it addresses questions about how it was chosen in a post on X, external, formerly Twitter.

Despite this, when OpenAI showed off its new model GPT-4o on 13 May, boss Sam Altman referenced the name of the film on X, external.

During the demonstration of its more human-like conversational abilities, the chatbot told an OpenAI staff member: “Wow, that’s quite the outfit you’ve got on”.

It also said “stop it, you’re making me blush” when complimented.

But amid memes and posts about ChatGPT – featuring gifs of the film’s lonely protagonist Theodore Twombly – were also critical takes on the voice.

“This is giving such “female character as written by men” vibes,” said one person on X.

“Why is she so obsequious and flirty?”

In its blog post, OpenAI said the five voices used by its chatbot were sampled from voice actors it partnered with.

Being multilingual and having an “approachable” or “charismatic” voice that “feels timeless” were among the characteristics it targeted to create the personalities.

The firm said it spoke individually with shortlisted actors about its vision for human interactions with AI, as well as the technology’s capabilities, limits and risks, before deciding on the final voices.

The advanced voice features demonstrated at its spring update event have not been rolled out to ChatGPT users yet.

OpenAI says it will be made available to subscribers who pay for faster responses and priority access to new features in the coming weeks.

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