Scarlett Johansson Gets Support From SAG-AFTRA and Actors Over OpenAI Voice Scandal: ‘Just the Beginning’

SAG-AFTRA and more of Hollywood are standing behind Scarlett Johansson after she called out ChatGPT for allegedly cloning her voice for its “Sky” feature.

On Monday, the “Her” actress issued a statement saying she declined OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s request to use her voice when initially approached — however, they allegedly used it anyway. She has since hired legal representatives to sort out the matter. OpenAI denied the accusation, saying, “Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress,” though they agreed to take the demo down.

“This is just the beginning,” Johansson’s fellow “Avengers” actor Mark Ruffalo posted on X (formerly Twitter). “Time to go out and hug a tree.”

The Screen Actors Guild also entered the conversation on Tuesday.

“We thank Ms. Johansson for speaking out on this issue of crucial importance to all SAG-AFTRA members. We share in her concerns and fully support her right to have clarity and transparency regarding the voice used in developing the ChatGPT-4o appliance Sky,” SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 industry professionals, said in a statement. “SAG-AFTRA members are among the most talented and often most recognizable people on the planet. That is why we’re strongly championing federal legislation that would protect their voices and likenesses — and everyone else’s as well — from unauthorized digital replication.”

They continued: “We are pleased that Open AI has responded to these concerns and paused their use of Sky, and we look forward to working with them and other industry stakeholders to enshrine transparent and resilient protections for all of us.”

Chiming in, actress and filmmaker Justine Bateman, recognized Johansson’s quick move to legally correct the issue on Monday.

“Scarlett Johansson quickly and completely shutting down another #AI scammer (Sam Altman and OpenAI, natch),” she wrote on X.

Comedian and actor Rob Delaney also took the time to acknowledge how Johansson speaking out will ultimately help those who don’t have a large platform to address the issue.

“Scarlett Johansson always wins when she goes after malefactors & then there’s a trickle down effect which helps ppl w less power. Very cool,” he said.

Here is Johansson’s full statement:

“Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. He 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 Al. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people. After much consideration and for personal reasons, declined the offer.

Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me. 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.

Mr. Altman even insinuated that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’- a reference to the film in which | voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human.

Two days before the ChatGPT 4.0 demo was released, Mr. Altman contacted my agent, asking me to reconsider. Before we could connect, the system was out there. As a result of their actions, I was forced to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAl, setting out what they had done and asking them to detail the exact process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice.

Consequently, OpenAl reluctantly agreed to take down the ‘Sky’ voice. 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. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

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