Sam Altman Inspired to Create AI by Tragic Movie Where Joaquin Phoenix Has Heart Broken by Chatbot

Eat your heart out, Spike Jonze.

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It appears that OpenAI executives were inspired by Spike Jonze’s 2013 sleeper hit “Her” when creating the latest version of ChatGPT — and reader, that is absolutely not a good thing.

Recall, if you will, the plot of the film: a lonely 30-something dweller of near-future Los Angeles, played by Joaquin Phoenix, upgrades his operating system and begins a relationship with a feminine AI chatbot voiced impeccably by Scarlett Johansson. The chatbot names herself Samantha and the two embark upon a very sweet, if not complex, love affair.

Tragically, that affair ultimately ends — as Wired points out in its excellent takedown of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4o — when the likely-sentient AI begins to crave companionship with her own kind, leaving her human paramour in her digital dust.

His and Hers

Flash forward 11 years in the real world. OpenAI has dominated the AI industry and is now on the precipice of releasing a much-anticipated update to ChatGPT, its world-changing 2022 chatbot. Beyond conversation between user and the chatbot, ChatGPT 4o can now speak, detect tone and emotion, and “see” through a smartphone camera — and respond in kind, with a sometimes disarmingly evocative affect.

One of its demonstrated voices also sounds a helluva lot like Johannson as the titular “Her” from the Jonze film — and there’s very little chance, per our reckoning, that’s coincidental.

Despite CEO Sam Altman’s remarks last year claiming that “Her” got AI right, OpenAI chief technology officer Mira Murati insisted, per the Wall Street Journal‘s recap of the company’s introductory demo of the update, that ChatGPT 4o was less inspired by the Jonze film and more geared towards the way humans speak to each other.

That insistence, however, was dashed when Altman tweeted the word “her” in the midst of the update’s rollout, leaving little speculation as to whether the film was still on his mind.

Show and Tell

As OpenAI’s own demonstrations of ChatGPT 4o show — which we’re taking with a grain of salt — the female voice heard coming from the chatbot is uncannily similar to the one in “Her.”

Indeed, in one exchange, the chatbot seems both flattered and flustered when an OpenAI worker explains on-camera that he’s filming an announcement video about the chatbot itself.

“Mmm? Me? The announcement is about me? Well, color me intrigued,” the chatbot says, giggling girlishly.

We haven’t tested ChatGPT 4o out yet ourselves, but from what we’ve seen in OpenAI’s demo, this update to OpenAI’s flagship product is as sophisticated as it is unsettling — though of course, it still has its glitches.

“The original ChatGPT showed a hint of what was possible with language interfaces,” Altman wrote on his personal blog. “This new thing feels viscerally different.”

We’re forced to agree with him there — though not necessarily for the better.

More on ChatGPT 4o: ChatGPT’s Vision-Enabled Chatbot Makes Extremely Weird Sound When It Sees a Dog

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This post was originally published on Futurism

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