Good news, Scarlett Johansson, you may not have to use ChatGPT with Siri

So yes, most of the new AI-infused or AI-powered features coming to iOS, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15 Sequoia are powered by Apple Intelligence using either on-device or in the Private Compute Cloud. And yes, that goes for the vast majority of Siri’s new intelligence and new powers, as well. 

But Apple is giving users the option to pull from another LLM (large-language model) – OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4o may be called upon when Siri doesn’t quite know the answer or when you might want to mix up your writing style. You won’t be stuck with OpenAI’s latest LLM, though. 

Speaking at a talk after the keynote wrapped, Craig Federighi – Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering – shared a bit more about Apple’s approach here: “We want to enable users, ultimately, to bring the model of their choice.”

Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Future / Jacob Krol)

It’s an approach similar to how Apple lets you select a default search engine on your iPhone; Federighi did say that LLM choice could potentially include Google Gemini but was quick to note Apple had “nothing to announce,” but it is “the direction.” On stage with Federighi during the conversation were John Giannandrea – Apple’s SVP of Machine Learning and AI Strategy – and Justine Ezarik (iJustine). Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, introduced the conversation.

As a whole, it is a win for users’ freedom of choice. If there is an LLM that better aligns with your needs or maybe internet privacy beliefs, you’ll one day be able to make that choice, assuming Apple’s idea with software functionality doesn’t change.

This means that any users, including Scarlett Johansson – if she uses an iPhone – won’t be forced into using ChatGPT-4o … at least for the long haul. When Apple Intelligence ships alongside the new Siri, the assistant will sometimes ask for certain requests or questions and use ChatGPT to provide an answer. With user-written text, really anywhere on the supported devices, you’ll also be able to highlight the response and send it off to ChatGPT for revision.

Of course, these are all opt-in. You’ll also need an iPad or Mac powered by an M-Series chip or iPhone 15 Pro or 15 Pro Max – thanks to the A17 Pro chip – to use any Apple Intelligence features or the new Siri when it arrives later this year.

For more on Apple’s massive WWDC 2024 special event keynote, check out our recap 13 things we learned piece here.

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The ChatGPT ‘Sky’ assistant wasn’t a deliberate copy of Scarlett Johansson’s voice, OpenAI claims

OpenAI's high-profile run-in with Scarlett Johansson is turning into a sci-fi story to rival the move Her, and now it's taken another turn, with OpenAI sharing documents and an updated blog post suggesting that its 'Sky' chatbot in the ChatGPT app wasn't a deliberate attempt to copy the actress's voice.

OpenAI preemptively pulled its 'Sky' voice option in the ChatGPT app on May 19, just before Scarlett Johansson publicly expressed her “disbelief” at how “eerily similar” it sounded to her own (in a statement shared with NPR). The actress also revealed that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had previously approached her twice to license her voice for the app, and that she'd declined on both occasions. 

But now OpenAI is on the defensive, sharing documents with The Washington Post suggesting that its casting process for the various voices in the ChatGPT app was kept entirely separate from its reported approaches to Johansson.

The documents, recordings and interviews with people involved in the process suggest that “an actress was hired to create the Sky voice months before Altman contacted Johansson”, according to The Washington Post. 

The agent of the actress chosen for the Sky voice also apparently confirmed that “neither Johansson nor the movie “Her” were ever mentioned by OpenAI” during the process, nor was the actress's natural speaking voice tweaked to sound more like Johansson.

OpenAI's lead for AI model behavior, Joanne Jang, also shared more details with The Washington Post on how the voices were cast. Jang stated that she “kept a tight tent” around the AI voices project and that Altman was “not intimately involved” in the decision-making process, as he was “on his world tour during much of the casting process”.

Clearly, this case is likely to rumble on, but one thing's for sure – we won't be seeing ChatGPT's 'Sky' voice reappear for some time, if at all, despite the vocal protestations and petitions of its many fans.

What happens next?

OpenAI logo on wall

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / rafapress)

With Johansson now reportedly lawyering up in her battle with OpenAI, the case looks likely to continue for some time.

Interestingly, the case isn't completely without precedent, despite the involvement of new tech. As noted by Mitch Glazier (chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America), there was a similar case in the 1980s involving Bette Midler and the Ford Motor Company.

After Midler declined Ford's request to use her voice in a series of ads, Ford hired an impersonator instead – which resulted in a legal battle that Midler ultimately won, after a US court found that her voice was distinctive and should be protected against unauthorized use.

OpenAI is now seemingly distancing itself from suggestions that it deliberately did something similar with Johansson in its ChatGPT app, highlighting that its casting process started before Altman's apparent approaches to the actress. 

This all follows an update to OpenAI's blog post, which included a statement from CEO Sam Altman claiming: “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson's, and it was never intended to resemble hers. We cast the voice actor behind Sky’s voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. 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.”

But Altman's post on X (formerly Twitter) just before OpenAI's launch of GPT-4o, which simply stated “her”, doesn't help distance the company from suggestions that it was attempting to recreate the famous movie in some form, regardless of how explicit that was in its casting process. 

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