The Voices of A.I. Are Telling Us a Lot

What does artificial intelligence sound like? Hollywood has been imagining it for decades. Now A.I. developers are cribbing from the movies, crafting voices for real machines based on dated cinematic fantasies of how machines should talk.

Last month, OpenAI revealed upgrades to its artificially intelligent chatbot. ChatGPT, the company said, was learning how to hear, see and converse in a naturalistic voice — one that sounded much like the disembodied operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the 2013 Spike Jonze movie “Her.”

ChatGPT’s voice, called Sky, also had a husky timbre, a soothing affect and a sexy edge. She was agreeable and self-effacing; she sounded like she was game for anything. After Sky’s debut, Johansson expressed displeasure at the “eerily similar” sound, and said that she had previously declined OpenAI’s request that she voice the bot. The company protested that Sky was voiced by a “different professional actress,” but agreed to pause her voice in deference to Johansson. Bereft OpenAI users have started a petition to bring her back.