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AI may unleash an army of cloned fake artists and we may not even know it.

Is it me or is AI quickly taking over the world? Every day brings more news about AI is supplanting humans. The prospect of disruption is very, very real. Even more scary is that trust in what we see and hear is rapidly eroding. With AI and deepfakes, what’s real and what’s not?

For example, someone used AI to make it look like Drake is singing a 2007 song by Colby Caillat called “Bubbly.”

There are plenty of examples of this kind of thing. Music generators aren’t quite as good as what we see with image generators (cf. the widely circulated picture of the Pope in a puffy coat), programs like OpenAI’s Jukebox are being used to crank out “songs” by Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Katy Perry, and Jay-Z (Go here and here for more. Google has a research paper that shows how systems can create new songs just with a few text prompts. In other words, you can write something like “Give me a mid-tempo grinding rock song with Metallica-style riffs and Phil Collins gated drums” and the AI will spit out some audio.

AI is getting better and better at composing, producing, and recording music. Record labels are freaking out over the prospect of cloned artists and songs that are completely fake. Universal, the largest of the major labels, has sent a letter to all the major streaming services asking them to beware of AI tools that are scraping music catalogues to train their software. AI analyzes all the data points in a recording made by a human and then uses that information to create something new.

Setting aside the issue with copyright–who owns the rights to a song created by a machine?–the idea of being flooded with fake songs from deepfake artists is terrifying. Add this to all the other trust issues we’re having and it’s hard to view AI as dystopic.

It’s not Skynet–yet. But…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38319 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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