OpenAI staff make jokes about CEO drama as they announce new ChatGPT voice feature

OpenAI LP might be experiencing an existential crisis at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped it from rolling out new updates to its legendary ChatGPT chatbot.

In an update today that was later shared by its ex-President Greg Brockman, the company announced that users can now ask ChatGPT questions in their natural voice, and listen to its response. In other words, they can now engage in proper conversations with it.

OpenAI said the voice feature is now being rolled out for free to all users. The feature first arrived in September, alongside the ability to use images as prompts. However, it was only available to paying subscribers at the time.

The new feature comes as the turmoil around OpenAI’s leadership continues unabated. The latest rumblings suggest huge discord among the company’s employees, with the vast majority apparently willing to resign en masse if former Chief Executive Sam Altman, who was unceremoniously dismissed on Friday, isn’t reinstated. It’s said that Altman is still negotiating with the board members who ousted him on a possible reinstatement, though it’s not clear if that will happen or he will instead take up a job offer from Microsoft Corp.

In a demo of the new feature, OpenAI’s staff even made jokes about the drama surrounding the artificial intelligence firm, with someone asking ChatGPT: “It’s been a long night for the team, and we’re hungry. How many 16-inch pizzas should I order for 778 people?”

For the curious, ChatGPT suggested ordering 195 pizzas to satisfy everyone’s hunger pangs.

The voice feature is said to be powered by a new text-to-speech model that can generate humanlike voices from text. It was created using just a few seconds of sample speech, the company explained at the time it was first announced. It said it worked with established voice actors to create five voices, while the open-source Whisperer speech recognition model is used to transcribe verbal utterances into text.

Users can activate the voice feature on the ChatGPT application on Android and iOS via the settings menu, simply by tapping on the headphones icon.

It’s not clear why Brockman was so eager to repost OpenAI’s announcement on X, formerly known as Twitter. Brockman notably resigned from the company Friday in protest at Altman’s firing. Perhaps it could be taken as a sign that Brockman and Altman are closer to a return to the company than is currently being reported. Or it could be that Brockman is just proud of the company’s work and wants it to be shared as far and wide as possible.

Image: Franz26/Pixabay

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