GOP rep warns AI threatening livelihoods of female artists as the music industry navigates new tech

With new technologic frontiers come new risks and one senator warned artificial intelligence (AI) is not only threatening the music industry but female artists in particular.

Chatbots and image-rendering technologies have already shown how AI can produce results comparable to renowned writers and artists. Tuesday, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of this rapidly developing software, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R) delved into some of the economic factors that included theorized theft of “American talent” by the Chinese.

“To them, it is an absolute way that they are robbing them of their ability to make a living off of their creative works,” the lawmaker said with a focus on cloning technologies and algorithms.

One example given was the generative music tool Jukebox from OpenAI, the same company co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk that developed ChatGPT. The senator argued the software’s ability to produce passable facsimiles of popular artists threatened their earning potential.

Elaborating on that in a statement to Fox News Digital, Blackburn posited, “Chinese companies like ByteDance are working on AI music creation to potentially steal and replicate content created by American talent. We must ensure that all artists have a fair shot at being promoted based on their talent and success as they do in Music City.”

For their part, Jukebox’s website described their capabilities as “rudimentary,” outlining the tool as a “neural net that generates music, including rudimentary singing, as raw audio in a variety of genres and artist styles.”

However, cloning, whether passable or not, was not the only concern as Blackburn raised an example from country artist Martina McBride who had described her experience making a playlist on the streaming service Spotify.

According to the musician, it had taken her 13 requests for the service to produce a playlist that included at least one female artist on the list, leading the senator to lament, “You look at the power of AI to shape what people are hearing…If you’ve got these algorithmically AI-generated playlists that cuts out new artists or females or certain sounds, then you are limiting some of someone’s potential.”

The hearing was hardly the first time that the risks of AI had been argued. In fact, earlier this year it was reported how Musk and other industry leaders and experts had called for an “AI summer” as a means for hearings like the one conducted in the Senate Tuesday to catch up with technology.

“This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors,” the letter spearheaded by the Future of Life Institute had read. “If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”

While Musk has gone on to launch a new AI company since then, a fellow signer of the letter testified Tuesday on the risks. Previously, Yoshua Bengio, founder and scientific director of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (Mila) had stated, “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs.”

He was joined at the hearing by Oxford University professor Stuart Russell who said the AI issue is “very important” and the law “simply wasn’t ready for this kind of thing to be possible.”

Kevin Haggerty

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