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Scarlett Johansson Expresses Outrage Over AI Voice Resembling Hers

Scarlett Johansson, renowned actor and voice of several iconic characters, recently voiced her dismay and frustration over an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant developed by OpenAI, which she claims bears an unsettling resemblance to her own voice. This incident has sparked a significant debate about ethics and privacy in the rapidly evolving field of AI technology.

The Heart of the Controversy

The controversy began when OpenAI, a leading AI research lab, released a demo of its new AI assistant featuring a voice named “Sky,” which many noted sounded remarkably similar to Johansson’s distinctive tone. The actor explained that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, had previously approached her about potentially lending her voice to an AI project, an offer she declined. Despite this, the voice used in the demo led many, including Johansson’s close friends and various news outlets, to believe it was her.

Johansson expressed her shock and anger in a statement, highlighting her disbelief at the decision to proceed with a voice so similar to hers without her consent. “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 stated.

Legal and Ethical Implications

Following the release of the demo and the ensuing backlash, Johansson took legal steps, requesting that OpenAI discontinue the use of the “Sky” voice. OpenAI, while initially reluctant, complied with the request. The company also released a statement clarifying that the “Sky” voice was not intended to mimic Johansson but was the natural voice of a different professional actress.

This situation raises important questions about the ethical use of celebrity likenesses and voices in AI. It highlights the need for clear policies and guidelines to prevent the unauthorized use of individuals’ voices, which can lead to confusion and potential misuse.

The Response from OpenAI

In response to the controversy, Altman briefly acknowledged the situation with a cryptic post on the social media platform X, simply stating “her”—a possible reference to Johansson’s role in the film “Her,” where she plays an AI system. This response has been viewed by some as a tacit admission of the similarities between Johansson’s voice and the AI’s.

Broader Implications for AI Development

This incident is a stark reminder of the broader implications of AI development, particularly the need for responsible innovation and respect for personal and intellectual property rights. As AI technologies become more sophisticated and capable of mimicking human attributes with greater accuracy, the potential for ethical dilemmas and privacy concerns increases.

Developers and companies in the AI space must consider the moral implications of their creations, especially when they involve elements that closely resemble real human characteristics. It’s essential to engage in open dialogues about privacy, consent, and the ethical use of AI to ensure that these technologies are developed in a way that respects individual rights and societal norms.

Moving Forward: Ethical AI Development

The development of AI technologies like voice assistants requires careful consideration of ethical standards. Companies like OpenAI are at the forefront of exploring these uncharted waters and have a responsibility to set precedents that prioritize respect for individuals’ likenesses and personal attributes.

As we advance further into the age of AI, it’s crucial for policymakers, technologists, and ethicists to work together to establish guidelines that protect individuals’ rights without stifling innovation. This includes clear consent mechanisms, transparency about the use of AI-generated likenesses, and a commitment to respecting the personal attributes of individuals, especially public figures.


Scarlett Johansson’s ordeal with OpenAI serves as a cautionary tale about the complexities and ethical considerations in AI development. As technology continues to evolve, it is imperative that the industry considers the human impact of its innovations and works diligently to foster trust and ensure that AI advancements enhance society while respecting individual rights. This incident is a reminder of the need for ongoing dialogue and regulation to navigate the ethical challenges posed by AI and protect against potential misuses.