OpenAI Apologizes to Scarlett Johansson, Denies Voice Similarity Claims

OpenAI Scarlett Johansson apology

OpenAI has issued an apology to actress Scarlett Johansson following her reaction to their new synthetic voice, “Sky.” CEO Sam Altman clarified that the voice was not modeled after Johansson’s, amidst growing public speculation and controversy.

The Controversy Unfolds

Scarlett Johansson’s Reaction

Scarlett Johansson expressed her surprise and displeasure after noticing the similarities between her voice and Sky, the new synthetic voice launched by OpenAI. Sky, showcased as part of the GPT-4o technology, was designed to be more human-like, exhibiting playful and dynamic interactions.

Public Perception and Speculation

The voice of Sky quickly drew comparisons to Johansson’s AI character in the 2013 film “Her.” This was compounded by Altman’s cryptic post on social media, which simply stated “her,” fueling further speculation.

OpenAI’s Response

Official Statement

In response to the controversy, Sam Altman released a statement on Tuesday. “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” he said. Altman also mentioned that the voice actor for Sky was chosen long before any outreach to Johansson.

Respect and Apology

Out of respect for Johansson, OpenAI decided to pause the use of Sky’s voice in its products. “We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better,” Altman added, addressing the communication lapse that led to the misunderstanding.

Development of Sky’s Voice

Casting Process

OpenAI detailed the careful selection process for Sky’s voice in a blog post. The company began working on casting voice actors in early 2023, seeking voices that were “timeless” and “approachable.” Five final candidates recorded their voices in San Francisco during June and July, with the voices being incorporated into ChatGPT in September.

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Privacy and Authenticity

To maintain privacy, OpenAI did not disclose the names of the voice actors. The company emphasized that AI voices should not intentionally mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice to avoid confusion and ethical concerns.

Industry Reaction

AI Humanization Concerns

The incident has sparked a broader debate about the humanization of AI. Microsoft VP Yusuf Mehdi emphasized that AI should not be too human-like, asserting that AI should retain clear markers of its artificial nature to avoid misunderstandings.

Disbandment of Risk Team

Amidst the Johansson dispute, OpenAI also confirmed that it had disbanded its “superalignment” group, which was focused on mitigating long-term AI risks. The team members have been reassigned to other projects and research areas within the company.


The controversy surrounding Sky’s voice highlights the complexities of developing human-like AI and the ethical considerations involved. OpenAI’s apology to Scarlett Johansson and subsequent actions demonstrate the company’s commitment to addressing these concerns and maintaining transparency

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