Scarlett Johansson Rebukes OpenAI Over ‘Eerily Similar’ ChatGPT Voice
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Scarlett Johansson Rebukes OpenAI Over ‘Eerily Similar’ ChatGPT Voice

Actress was ‘shocked, angered and in disbelief’ when she heard AI voice; company says AI voices shouldn’t mimic a celebrity’s

By JOSEPH PISANI, VICTORIA ALBERT
Wed, May 22, 2024 9:25amGrey Clock 2 min

Actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI over a ChatGPT voice she says is “eerily similar” to her own.

The tech company said Monday it was pausing use of the voice, known as Sky, so it could address questions about how it chose the ChatGPT voices. Many people online have drawn comparisons between Sky and Johansson, who voiced an artificial-intelligence assistant in the 2013 sci-fi romance “Her.” The actress said in a statement her closest friends couldn’t tell the difference.

Johansson said OpenAI Chief Executive Sam Altman wanted to hire her last year to provide her voice for ChatGPT’s current system. She declined. When the actress heard Sky, one of five voices the company offers for its AI tool, she said she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief” that Altman would use a voice so similar to hers.

Johansson said her lawyers asked Altman and OpenAI for more details on how they created Sky.

“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,” Johansson said.

The voice of Sky was never intended to resemble Johansson, Altman said in a statement Monday evening.

“We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson,” he said. “Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products.”

In a blog post Sunday, the company said it picked the five voices from more than 400 submissions from actors, looking for voices that sounded timeless and were easy to listen to.

OpenAI said Sky was the natural voice of another actress whom it hired and wasn’t an imitation of Johansson. It wouldn’t name the actress, citing privacy reasons.

The conflict with Johansson adds to the challenges confronting OpenAI, which has been sued by authors, artists and media companies for allegedly using their material without permission or payment. It also serves as a distraction at a time when OpenAI is trying to highlight new products and move beyond its leadership crisis last fall, when the company’s then-board of directors fired Altman for failing to be “consistently candid.” Altman was quickly reinstated as CEO.

OpenAI announced an updated ChatGPT voice feature a week ago. It builds on a product released in September that allows users to talk to its AI tool instead of type and hear responses in five different voices. OpenAI said users can have a more humanlike conversation with the new version, which responds almost instantaneously and can switch quickly between emotional tones.

The updated feature is part of a new AI system , called GPT-4o. It is the company’s latest attempt to attract more users and dominate the market for generative AI technology. The feature will be available to users who pay for ChatGPT-Plus, which costs $20 a month.

At the announcement last week, Altman likened the voice feature to something only seen in movies.

The CEO said in a speech last year that he and other OpenAI executives found inspiration in “Her,” which starred Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely man who falls in love with the voice assistant Samantha, voiced by Johansson. OpenAI employees posted references to the movie on X after the May 13 voice announcement. Altman posted a one-word tweet : “her.”

—Deepa Seetharaman contributed to this article. 



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A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards

A cash prize from Kanebridge Quarterly magazine, offered for the first time this year, drew a record number of entries for the design competition

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Jun 17, 2024 2 min

A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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