Robots Are The New Songwriters – Is This Morally Right?

Warner Music Group’s newest addition to their ‘artist’ roster is that of an algorithm addict destined to make your newest jam, pretty much an alexa with an insatiable interest in generating sound while simultaneously reading your heart rate and circadian rhythm. Designed with the aim in mind to produce 20 albums this year, each containing frequencies which will help you in an array of areas of your life, from being more productive in work to reducing your anxiety:

It’s called ‘Endel’, it’s a sound app, it’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

Am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable with this? With the overall concept being that a robot will be making an album which makes us jump for joy in one track before crying ourselves to sleep with another. Not by using genuine experience, or raw emotion but instead through big data compilation and machine learning.

It’s one thing having electronics play a part in the music making process, we all know that wizkid producers with state of the art technology  open the doors to having the capability to produce unearthly sounds, afterall autotune is such a common element of music currently. With image taking precedence over singing talent (but I’ll save that topic for a rainy day). Back to the point. It’s one thing having a human use machines to assist the music making process but if you remove the human completely can we really call music art then? Will it not fall under ‘engineering’ or ‘technology’? And if so, would you find an issue with that?

If a robot is evoking certain emotions in us when we listen to the sound frequencies it generates as a response to data based off of my internal functioning (heart rate, movements, temperature), it makes me question how will it be able to manipulate us emotionally further down the line? As the late Stephen Hawking highlighted that although AI may host beneficial impacts to us humans, the theoretical physicist also raised the point that artificial intelligence may also pose the threat of kickstarting the beginning of the the end of the human race if used incautiously.

I must stress, I’m not against AI, but I am cautious of it’s capability. My curiosity for its role to play in sound is sparked by my love for music. And perhaps, my disdain for it’s potential domination through the music industry stems from my subliminal believe that music is something innately human, it acted as a glue, binding our ancestors together as they danced at rituals and socials, it bonds us together today, whether sharing a feeling for heartbreak or one of pure ecstasy, music seems to be a vector to share what at its core makes us human – emotions. Do I really want to press a button on an app to release a frequency to calm my nerves or do I want to talk to a human face to face and get something off my chest?

 

Enough about my opinions, whether I agree with its motives or not, it sure is interesting, if you want to learn more about Endel, check it out here.

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