The GuardianThe Guardian

We soon won’t tell the difference between AI and human music – so can pop survive?

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas

19 Apr 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

AI-generated music will soon be indistinguishable from the "real thing." But the way the technology is trained to imitate humans means it can never be more than a tribute act, The Guardian claims.

We’re at an inflection point for AI, where it goes from nerdish fixation to general talking point, like the metaverse and NFTs before it. More and more workers in various industries are fretting about it impinging on their livelihoods, and ChatGPT, Bard, Midjourney and other AI applications are creeping into our awareness.

In music, this tech has been percolating since the 1950s when programmer-composer Lejaren Hiller’s algorithm allowed a University of Illinois computer to compose its own music, but has really grabbed the popular imagination this month with a number of high-profile fakes. A “collaboration” between convincing AI-derived imitations of Drake and the Weeknd earned hundreds of thousands of streams before being scrubbed from streaming services; Drake was also made to imitate fellow rapper Ice Spice via AI, prompting him to respond: “this is the final straw”. An AI version of Kanye West has atoned for his antisemitism in witless verse, and AIsis released an album of all-too-human indie rock with software doing bad Liam Gallagher karaoke over the top of it.

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