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Billie Eilish and Music A-Listers Call AI Tech a Threat to

Creativity. The musicians and songwriters who co-signed an open letter on AI's threat do admit that responsible AI is a good thing, though.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Now that artificial intelligence is working its way into business and becoming an accepted part of daily digital life, the question of whether AI is a threat to humanity is no longer a sci-fi thought experiment. Everyone from MIT professors to Elon Musk and the CEO of industry-leading AI company OpenAI has weighed in on the risks and benefits of the tech revolution sweeping the world.

Now some 200 musicians and songwriters, including global stars like Billie Eilish, Nicky Minaj, Bon Jovi, and Stevie Wonder have made their feelings on AI clear in an open letter. They say AI is a direct threat not only to their industry, but to "human creativity" of all types. 

The letter was issued by nonprofit advocacy group the Artist Rights Alliance, explains the website Mashable and was signed by musicians and songwriters across the spectrum of music genres and even generations--the estates of Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley are both signatories. Musicians from Aimee Mann to Zayn Malik make their views clear in the letter, calling on "AI developers, technology companies, platforms and digital music services" and demands that they "cease the use of artificial intelligence" to "infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists." 

In particular, the musical creatives say AI poses "enormous threats" to their ability to protect their privacy, identity, music and livelihoods. And it specifically calls out AI companies that used their intellectual property to train AI models without permission.

This was done, they allege, with the goal of "replacing the work of human artists with massive quantities of AI-created 'sounds' and 'images'" and it's having the effect of diluting the royalty money artists can expect. This sort of act fuels a "race to the bottom" that "degrades the value" of their creative work and could "destroy the music ecosystem."

This is an allegation that has been leveled many times at generative AI, for similar reasons: the New York Times is, for example, in the middle of a lawsuit alleging that OpenAI scraped its archives for news articles to train ChatGPT's algorithms. Late last year a group of authors that included George R.R. Martin sued OpenAI alleging, very similarly, that their creative content was used without permission to train the AI, highlighting a potential to "damage -- if not usurp -- the market for these professional authors' works."

OpenAI, in response to that lawsuit, argued that "creative professionals around the world use ChatGPT as a part of their creative process." Interestingly that aligns with one part of the new open letter from musical professionals. The letter acknowledges that "AI has enormous potential to advance human creativity" and even to create "new and exciting experiences." But this is, the letter says, the difference between "responsible" use of AI compared to creativity-threatening irresponsible use.

Recently Adobe, which has raised photographers' worries by including generative AI image-tweaking tech to Photoshop, teased its development of an AI tool that can actually dream up new music, taking in reference tunes and spitting out AI-generated content in the same style. As part of this news Adobe was very careful to note that it saw the tool as something that would "coexist" with music creators, as part of their process--not as a way to replace them.

But with current-generation AI tools allowing businesses to dream up (for free) written content that previously they may have paid a freelance writer to create, or AI-crafted visuals to go on a media pitch that, before, would've been created by a paid-for professional, it's easy to see that this trend will extend to music and company jingles and so on. And not just in small businesses' PR teams either--video games need music too. 

All of this news is also playing out as another a minor drama over a purported AI-generated video stutters to a close. George Carlin's estate has now settled with a group of podcasters who produced a special show "starring" the comedian long after his death in 2008. The show's content ended up being written by real people, but for a while it was said to be AI-made--highlighting exactly how sensitive the topic of AI-generated material really is.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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