Scarlett Johansson's AI voice concerns highlight need for AI transparency law, Virginia congressman says

US actress Scarlett Johansson arrive for the screening of the film "Asteroid City" during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 23, 2023. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Ima

Rep. Don Beyer is calling for the House to consider his legislation, the AI Foundation Model Transparency Act, after actress Scarlett Johansson raised concerns about whether OpenAI used her voice without permission for a new AI product. 

Beyer, a prominent figure on AI-related legislative efforts, emphasized the need for transparency in AI model development in a statement Tuesday. 

The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act, introduced by Beyer and AI Caucus Chair Anna Eshoo in 2023, aims to establish transparency standards for high-impact AI models. These standards would require AI developers to provide the Federal Trade Commission and the public with information about how AI models are trained and the sources of their data. The bill has garnered support from organizations such as SAG-AFTRA, the Authors Guild, and Universal Music.

"Anyone who believes their voice is used without their permission would ask the same questions Scarlett Johansson is asking now," Beyer said. "The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act would ensure that those questions are answered."


OpenAI accused of mimicking Scarlett Johansson, tech company pauses ChatGPT voice

Is that "Her?" Scarlett Johansson was "angered and in disbelief" by OpenAI over its ChatGPT app's voice, Sky, noting it uses a voice very similar to hers.

Johansson recently alleged that the voice of OpenAI's new personal assistant, "Sky," was so similar to hers that even her closest friends could not tell the difference. She urged the passage of appropriate legislation to address such issues. 

OpenAI responded by stating that "Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice."


ChatGPT upgrade: OpenAI’s GPT-4o allows chatbot to emote, give faster responses

OpenAI announced ChatGPT’s upgrade to GPT-4o on Monday, giving the chatbot "more natural human-computer interactions," the company said on its website. 

Beyer pointed out that Johansson’s case highlights the growing need for transparency in AI models. 

"Scarlett Johansson’s is not the first case of this kind and will not be the last," he said. "Congress can help solve this problem by requiring creators of AI foundation models to share key information with regulators and the public, which is exactly what my bill would do."

The proposed legislation would ensure public access to information about data sources in cases like Johansson’s, helping to establish the truth and protect copyright owners. 

WASHINGTON - MARCH 23: Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., speaks during the news conference on the debt limit in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, March 23, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Beyer plans to discuss the utility of the AI Foundation Model Transparency Act at the next meeting of the House Task Force on Artificial Intelligence.

"I will continue to urge my colleagues to pass AI transparency legislation," Beyer said. "This bill would help copyright owners protect their rights and address widespread concerns from businesses and individuals about AI."

The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act aims to provide users with the information necessary to determine if their copyrights were included in an AI model’s training data, thus promoting fairness and accountability in AI development.

Read Scarlett Johansson's full statement below, courtesy of NPR: