Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Scarlett Johansson Calls BS on OpenAI, Reveals She Rejected ChatGPT Offer

AI just keeps getting sleazier. Now, along with committing mass plagiarism and trying to put writers and artists out of work, AI companies are stealing Scarlett Johansson’s voice.

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Yesterday, the news broke that OpenAI, the tech company run by Sam Altman, allegedly used Johansson’s voice as the basis for its new version of ChatGPT, which it calls “Sky.” However, Johansson released a statement saying that she had rejected OpenAI’s offer to have her provide the voice of Sky, only to find out that the company used her voice anyway.

Johansson’s statement, which you can read in full at The New York Times, makes it pretty clear that OpenAI went ahead and used Johansson’s voice without her permission after she rejected their offer.

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

Johansson goes on to describe how she found out that “Sky” sounded exactly like her. “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,” the statement says. “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.”

Altman released a response, claiming that the company “cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better.”

Whether there’s any truth to Altman’s statement remains to be seen. In the meantime, the situation seems pretty clear: Altman wanted Johansson’s voice, and in keeping with the ethics of AI enthusiasts, felt free to help himself.

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>