Congress Invites Scarlett Johansson To Testify on Artificial Intelligence Abuse and Deepfakes

The hearing would be a platform for the actress — who recently expressed concerns about AI using a voice ‘eerily similar’ to her own — to ‘inform the broader public debate concerning deepfakes.’

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Scarlett Johansson at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Congress is inviting actress Scarlett Johansson to testify about artificial intelligence, deep fakes, and digital forgeries after global concerns that OpenAI’s “Sky” chatbot used a voice resembling hers. 

“You recently expressed concerns via social media about the resemblance between your own voice and that of the ‘Sky’ chatbot, recently released as part of OpenAI’s GPT4o update,” a letter to the actress from Congresswoman Nancy Mace states, which was reported by Axios. 

The congressional hearing would “provide a platform for you to share those concerns with House Members, and to inform the broader public debate concerning deepfakes,” Ms. Mace, a South Carolina Republican who is the chairwoman of the subcommittee on cybersecurity, information technology, and government innovation, notes in the letter. 

The invitation comes as lawmakers have been seeking to regulate the relatively uncharted territory of artificial intelligence. The topic stirred international attention in May when Ms. Johansson said that OpenAI’s “Sky” chatbot used a voice “eerily similar” to her own. She said she had been sought out last year by OpenAI’s chief executive, Sam Altman, who wanted to hire her for a ChatGPT voice. When she turned down the offer, she said she was “shocked, angered, and in disbelief” to hear a voice so similar to her own months later that her “closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference.” 

After users noticed similarities, OpenAI announced that it would remove the voice, as the Sun reported, and said the voice was selected through a months-long process and not meant to copy Ms. Johansson’s.

“The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” Mr. Altman told Reuters at the time. “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.” The congressional hearing would bring further attention to safety and intellectual property concerns around artificial intelligence, after a widespread consensus that Ms. Johansson’s incident was a “misuse of AI,” as the Sun reported.

The congressional subcommittee, in its invitation, notes that it investigates the “uses and abuses of deepfake technology including how dissemination of digital forgeries can potentially infringe on individual rights.”

The New York Sun

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