HomeIndustriesScarlett Johansson, the Hollywood star taking up OpenAI

Scarlett Johansson, the Hollywood star taking up OpenAI

In the 2013 film, lonely, soon-to-be-divorced Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) downloads a brand new AI-powered operating system that its developer, Elements Software, touts as an “intuitive being that listens to you, understands you, and knows you.”

It's exactly what the desperate Twombly craves. He sits down in front of his computer, chooses a female voice for his digital assistant, and is instantly greeted by a bubbly contralto with an irresistible croak. “Hello, I'm here,” says Samantha, voiced by actress Scarlett Johansson. He is smitten, and the 2 soon begin a romantic relationship.

Samantha's voice also seems to have made a deep impression on Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, an $86 billion artificial intelligence startup whose ambitions seem like just as lofty as those of the fictional Elements Software.

This week, Johansson claimed that after turning down Altman's offer to supply the voice for his company's chatbot ChatGPT last September, OpenAI pushed forward with a new edition called Sky, whose voice was so just like hers that not even her closest friends could tell the difference.

“When I heard the released demo, I used to be shocked, indignant and couldn't imagine that Mr. Altman was aiming for a voice that sounded so eerily just like mine,” Johansson wrote in a press release released Monday.

After receiving legal notices from Johansson's team, Altman removed Sky's voice and apologized to the actress, saying the voice was not intended to resemble hers. The shockwaves are still reverberating in Hollywood and elsewhere.

Despite winning protection from AI through strike motion last 12 months, actors remain fearful that digital copies of their voices and pictures can be used without their permission – stripping them of control over their careers and income. If anything, the incident will reinforce their belief that the mantra of many tech corporations – “move fast and break things” – will upend the entertainment industry.

Johansson, the star of critically acclaimed movies like “The Last Airbender” and billion-dollar Marvel blockbusters, wasn’t thrilled concerning the idea of ​​engaging with OpenAI. But she knew her status could draw attention to an issue that also affects others within the industry who’ve less influence, say individuals who have worked together with her.

She has played this role before. In 2021, the actress made headlines when she took on Disney over one other issue related to a disruptive technology: streaming. She accused Hollywood's strongest company of breaking its contract by releasing the film on its streaming service similtaneously its theatrical release – a move that may boost Disney's stock price and variety of streaming subscribers but squeeze her bonus.

Disney fired back, accusing the actress of “heartless disregard” for the pandemic. After a bitter and public battle, she received multimillion-dollar compensation.

Johansson was born and raised in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, which she described as “a middle-income housing development” that was home to many children whose parents were artists. Her father is a Danish architect, her mother a producer.

As a baby, she loved old Hollywood movies and admired actors from Judy Garland to Winona Ryder. She began acting at an early age, appearing in off-Broadway plays before landing her first film role in Rob Reiners at age 8.

Her voice, which might later develop into an asset, was an obstacle when it got here to promoting as a baby actress. “I appeared like a whiskey-drinking, chain-smoking idiot. I couldn't sell Jell-O with that voice, you realize?”

Johansson's big break got here on the age of 19, when Sofia Coppola's film “The Last Jedi,” by which she played the lead role, was released in theaters. It was the start of a protracted and successful profession that made the now 39-year-old one of the crucial successful actresses of all time.

Johansson is married to comedian Colin Jost, whom she met while hosting the late-night show. She has two children – a son with Jost and a daughter from a previous marriage.

The star has expressed her frustration at being pigeonholed for her appearance. “I used to be groomed in some ways to be what you’d call a bombshell actress. I played the opposite woman and the item of desire and suddenly I discovered myself on this corner.”

If she felt cornered by the OpenAI situation, she now has the facility to fight back. Flanked by her powerful agent, CAA boss Bryan Lourd, and attorney John Berlinski, she has make clear a sensitive issue in Hollywood and the creative industry at large. It's unclear whether her team will pursue legal motion. The OpenAI team, meanwhile, said it received greater than 400 submissions from actors and chosen five voices, including the one for the role of Sky, before Altman approached Johansson in September 2023 “to debate her potential involvement because the sixth voice actress for ChatGPT.”

There were similar disputes within the pre-digital age, say legal scholars, notably the case of Bette Midler against Ford Motor Company. In that case, a Midler impersonator was hired for a industrial after the singer turned down the job. A court ruled in Midler's favor, saying her distinctive voice was shielded from unauthorized use.

This can’t be the result Altman had hoped for. The AI ​​entrepreneur made no secret of his love for the film by which Johansson's voice played a number one role. After the new edition of ChatGPT debuted, he posted a One-word message to his followers: you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read