Sky narrative wrap-up, for now

Tonight the Washington Post has what looks like an exclusive story on OpenAI’s Sky voice. I didn’t want to keep writing about this, but here we are. Some quotes from the article:

…while many hear an eerie resemblance between “Sky” and Johansson’s “Her” character, an actress was hired to create the Sky voice months before Altman contacted Johansson, according to documents, recordings, casting directors and the actress’s agent.

The actress’s agent spoke to the Washington Post:

The agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to assure the safety of her client, said the actress confirmed that neither Johansson nor the movie “Her” were ever mentioned by OpenAI. The actress’s natural voice sounds identical to the AI-generated Sky voice, based on brief recordings of her initial voice test reviewed by The Post.

And from Joanne Jang, who worked at OpenAI with the actors:

Jang said she “kept a tight tent” around the AI voices project, making Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati the sole decision-maker to preserve the artistic choices of the director and the casting office. Altman was on his world tour during much of the casting process and not intimately involved, she said.

There was also a statement from the actress who voiced Sky:

In a statement from the Sky actress provided by her agent, she wrote that at times the backlash “feels personal being that it’s just my natural voice and I’ve never been compared to her by the people who do know me closely.”

Maybe we haven’t heard the last of this story and more news will drop. Even if it wasn’t intentional, there may be a legal case against OpenAI. But it appears that my initial take was correct.

I’ve been rolling this whole saga over in my mind since I first blogged about it. People are clearly concerned about AI generally and OpenAI specifically. There is also too much misinformation and divisiveness on social media, and a loss of nuance. When the narrative turns against a company, everything that follows will be viewed through a different lens, as if slightly distorted.

Manton Reece @manton