The rise of AI, and its encroachment into the arts, culture and beyond, is a subject which is causing anxiety and concern for many creatives, and Queen guitarist Brian May is the latest high-profile musician to caution against the effects it could have upon humanity in the future.
In the new issue of Guitar Player, May is asked for his thoughts on AI, and its potential use within the music industry, and his reply makes it very clear that he has concerns about the impact the technology may have.
“My major concern with it now is in the artistic area,” he states. “I think by this time next year the landscape will be completely different. We won’t know which way is up. We won’t know what’s been created by AI and what’s been created by humans. Everything is going to get very blurred and very confusing, and I think we might look back on 2023 as the last year when humans really dominated the music scene. I really think it could be that serious, and that doesn’t fill me with joy. It makes me feel apprehensive, and I’m preparing to feel sad about this.”
“I think a lot of great stuff will come from AI,” he continues, “because it is going to increase the powers of humans to solve problems. But the potential for AI to cause evil is, obviously, incredibly huge – not just in music, ’cause nobody dies in music, but people can die if AI gets involved in politics and world domination for various nations. I think the whole thing is massively scary. It’s much more far-reaching than anybody realised – well, certainly than I realised.”
In an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, ex-Sex Pistol and current Public Image Ltd frontman John Lydon expressed his worries over its moral implications and its potential erasure of individual autonomy.
“Who’s in charge and who’s feeding the information and giving the guidelines to these artifices?” Lydon asked. “What or where is the moral code? It has infiltrated young people’s minds now to the point of total domination. What will this create?”
“My advice is make small steps against this – and get that fucking Siri or whatever out of your house. It will ultimately make decisions for you, and that’s very dangerous.”
NIck Cave, meanwhile, has suggested that ChatGPT “fuck off and leave songwriting alone”.
“AI may very well save the world,” he said, “but it can’t save our souls. That’s what true art is for.”
“My objection is not with AI in general,” he told The New Yorker. “For better or for worse, we are inextricably immersed in AI.
“It is more a kind of sad, disappointed feeling that there are smart people out there that actually think the artistic act is so mundane that it can be replicated by a machine. I find that insulting.”