Artificial intelligence is being used lớn create new songs seemingly performed by Frank Sinatra and other dead stars. ‘Deepfakes’ are xinh tươi tricks – but they could change pop for ever

‘It’s Christmas time! It’s hot tub time!” sings Frank Sinatra. At least, it sounds lượt thích hyên ổn. With an easy swing, cheery bonhomie, và understated brass và string flourishes, this could just about pass as some long lost Sinatra thử nghiệm. Even the voice – that rich tone once described as “all legato & regrets” – is eerily familiar, even if it does lurch between keys và, at times, sounds as if it was recorded at the bottom of a swimming pool.

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The song in question not a genuine traông chồng, but a convincing fake created by “research and deployment company” OpenAI, whose Jukebox project uses artificial intelligence to generate music, complete with lyrics, in a variety of genres and artist styles. Along with Sinatra, they’ve done what are known as “deepfakes” of Katy Perry, Elvis, Sitháng and Garfunkel, 2Pac, Céline Dion và more. Having trained the model using 1.2m songs scraped from the web, complete with the corresponding lyrics and metadata, it can output raw audio several minutes long based on whatever you feed it. Input, say, Queen or Dolly Parton or Mozart, and you’ll get an approximation out the other end.

“As a piece of engineering, it’s really impressive sầu,” says Dr Matthew Yee-King, an electronic musician, researcher và academic at Goldsmiths. (OpenAI declined khổng lồ be interviewed.) “They break down an audio signal inlớn a set of lexemes of music – a dictionary if you lượt thích – at three different layers of time, giving you a mix of core fragments that is sufficient to lớn reconstruct the music that was fed in. The algorithm can then rearrange these fragments, based on the stimulus you input đầu vào. So, give it some Ella Fitzgerald for example, và it will find and piece together the relevant bits of the ‘dictionary’ khổng lồ create something in her musical space.”

Admirable as the technical achievement is, there’s something horrifying about some of the samples, particularly those of artists who have long since died – sad ghosts lost in the machine, mumbling banal cliches. “The screams of the damned” reads one phản hồi below that Sinatra sample; “SOUNDS FUCKING DEMONIC” reads another. We’re down in the Uncanny Valley.

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It’s not hard to lớn foresee, though, how such deepfakes could lead to lớn ethical and intellectual property issues. If you didn’t want to pay the market rate for using an established artist’s music in a film, TV show or commercial, you could create your own imitation. Streaming services could, meanwhile, pad out genre playlists with similar sounding AI artists who don’t earn royalties, thereby increasing profits. Ultimately, will streaming services, radio stations và others increasingly avoid paying humans for music?

Legal departments in the music industry are following developments closely. Earlier this year, Roc Nation filed DMCA takedown requests against an anonymous YouTube user for using AI lớn mimic Jay-Z’s voice & cadence lớn rap Shakespeare and Billy Joel. (Both are incredibly realistic.) “This nội dung unlawfully uses an AI lớn impersonate our client’s voice,” said the filing. And while the videos were eventually reinstated “pending more information from the claimant”, the case – the first of its kind – rumbles on.


Jay–Z, who saw an AI version of himself rapping Shakespeare & Billy Joel. Illustration: Guardian Design/wireimageRoc Nation declined lớn bình luận on the legal implications of AI impersonation, as did several other major labels contacted by the Guardian: “As a public company, we have lớn exercise caution when discussing future facing topics,” said one anonymously. Even UK industry body the BPI refused to lớn go on the record with regard to lớn how the industry will giảm giá khuyến mãi with this brave sầu new world & what steps might be taken to protect artists & the integrity of their work. The IFPI, an international music trade toàn thân, did not respond to lớn emails.

There’d be a potential cause of action with regards lớn “passing off” the recording, but, says Skellett, the burden of proof is onerous, and such action would be more likely to lớn succeed in the US, where legal protections exist against impersonating famous people for commercial purposes, & where plagiarism cases like Marvin Gaye’s estate taking on Blurred Lines have sầu succeeded. UK law has no such provisions or precedents, so even the commercial exploitation of deepfakes, if the creator was explicit about their nature, might not be actionable. “It would depend on the facts of each case,” Skellett says.

Having David Bowie sing whatever you lượt thích – it"s an extraordinary power & responsibilityMat DryhurstSome, however, are excited by the creative sầu possibilities. “If you’ve sầu got a statistical model of millions of songs, you can ask the algorithm: what haven’t you seen?” says Yee-King. “You can find that blank space, và then create something new.” Mat Dryhurst, an artist and podcaster who has spent years researching và working with AI & associated công nghệ, says: “The closest analogy we see is khổng lồ sampling. These models allow a new dimension of that, and represent the difference between sampling a fixed recording of Bowie’s voice & having Bowie sing whatever you lượt thích – an extraordinary power & responsibility.”

Deepfakes also pose deeper questions: what makes a particular artist special? Why vị we respond to certain styles or types of music, & what happens when that can be created on demand? Yee-King imagines machines able lớn generate the perfect piece of music for you at any time, based on settings that you select – something already being pioneered by the startup Endel – as well as pop stars using an AI listening mã sản phẩm to lớn predict which songs will be popular or what different demographics respond to. “Just feeding people an optimised stream of sound,” he says, “with artists taken out of the loop completely.”

But if we thảm bại all sense of emotional investment in what artists vày – and in the human side of creation – we will thua thảm something fundamental khổng lồ music. “These systems are trained on human expression & will augment it,” says Dryhurst. “But the missing piece of the puzzle is finding ways khổng lồ compensate people, not replace them.”

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