Nicki Minaj, Billie Eilish, Katy Perry and other musicians sign letter against irresponsible AI | Tech Crunch

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A group of 200 musicians have signed an open letter calling on tech companies and developers not to undermine human creativity with AI music generation tools.

The list of artists signed below is so powerful and extensive that it would make a great Coachella lineup – including Billie Eilish, Bob Marley's Estate, Chappelle Roan, Elvis Costello, Greta Van Fleet, Imagine Dragons, Jon Bon Jovi, The Jonas Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Mac DiMarco, Miranda Lambert, Mumford & Sons, Nicki Minaj, Noah Kahan, Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow and Zayn Malik, among others.

“When used irresponsibly, AI poses an enormous threat to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music and our livelihoods,” the letter said. “Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are using our work to train AI models, without permission. … For many working musicians, artists and songwriters just trying to make ends meet, it can be a disaster.”

These artists are true. AI models that generate new music, artwork and writing function by training them on huge datasets of existing work, and in most cases, asking them to remove your work from these models is a futile exercise. It would be like one of these artists trying to prevent anyone from pirating their music – it's just not realistic. It is already possible for popular artists to create convincing deepfakes, and the technology will continue to improve.

Some companies, such as Adobe and Stability AI, are working on AI music generators that use licensed or royalty-free music. But these tools can also have a negative impact on artists who score for TV commercials or have other beats that the artist licenses for their work.

Historically, musicians got the short end of the stick as technology became more advanced. First, it's easy to get music for free thanks to file-sharing; Streaming emerged as the answer to that problem, but it didn't satisfy artists. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) has worked for years to secure better streaming payments for artists — artists in the guild estimate that Spotify's average streaming royalty rate is about $0.0038, or about a fourth. So it makes sense that musicians are skeptical of this emerging technology.

The authors also took a stance against the rise of generative AI. In July, 15,000 authors – including James Patterson, Michael Chabon, Suzanne Collins, Roxane Gay and others – signed a similar open letter addressed to the CEOs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI, IBM and Microsoft.

“These technologies mimic and revitalize our language, stories, style and ideas. Millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays and poetry provide 'food' for AI systems, not the bill for an endless meal,” the authors' letter reads.

But these tech companies aren't listening. You can still go to ChatGPT and ask to compose a passage in the style of Margaret Atwood – which isn't necessarily good, but suggests that a larger language model can take “The Handmaid's Tale” and spit out a degraded version of it. That's it. And since copyright law isn't necessarily sophisticated enough to address generative AI, legal recourse is pretty useless at this point.

“This assault on human creativity must stop,” the musicians' letter says. “We need to protect against the predatory use of AI to steal the voices and likenesses of professional artists, violate creators' rights, and destroy the music ecosystem.”



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