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🔵 OpenAI's Struggles Highlight Growing Concerns Over Rapid Development
... and what this all means in the context of the music industry
Hi there -
The last three days have been quite the rollercoaster of news relating to the departure, re-hiring, then departure again of Sam Altman, CEO at OpenAI - a drama which has now concluded with Microsoft announcing it has hired not just Altman but most of the central team from the company it has invested serious money into.
In Friday’s Network Notes, I wrote about how the speed of AI development was becoming a concern. What I didn’t see coming at the time was that - if reports are correct - Altman was pushed out of OpenAI over the speed at which he was rolling out new features, such as the GPT app store that was announced at the company’s first ever developer conference.
As of today, Microsoft has, in a stunning move, managed to poach the entire central team of OpenAI, with Altman now leading the company's AI research programme.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to OpenAI, but for some reason I couldn’t help but think of former UK PM David Cameron, when he used to say an MP had his complete support… only for said MP to get fired days later. Microsoft will remain invested in OpenAI for as long as it has to - and that time might have drastically shortened with this latest round of hires.
So what does this have to do with music?
What this all highlights is the schism at the heart of AI: the desire to push forward with maximum speed (a value I’d argue might be where Altman’s vision lies) versus a more considered approach (allegedly favoured by OpenAI’s Chief Scientist, Ilya Sutskever).
This all has huge ramifications. Not to be dramatic, but given AI could literally replace a worryingly high number of jobs. The pace at which this all bears down on society is unquestionably something to be concerned about.
I would therefore argue that the rate of development in the music space, and the rails of control on which this all runs, should also give everyone pause for thought.
Granted, much of these developments lie beyond the reach of the music industry. Lawsuits like the one filed against Anthropic may yet set precedents around copyright and how AI can interact with that, though time will tell.
That being said, as Microsoft - which I’d argue is clearly pinning its flag to the “develop this as fast as possible” mast - unveils another update to its Azure platform which allows relatively effortless copying of someone’s face and vocal identity, I still worry that this might accelerate beyond the control of the music industry if more is not done.
Which brings me back to another point I raised last week, regarding the indies and the coalitions within them. I still feel a more united front is needed. Consider the actors’ and screenwriters’ strikes, and the resolutions that came from both. Where is the equivalent within music?
I feel we must be careful to avoid a sense that someone (i.e. someone else, not you) is looking after this. A clear, global, far-reaching entity needs to step up to represent the music business with one voice. As things stand, I’m not sure I see that happening. Given the sheer pace of development in this space, that is something to be concerned about.
Have a great evening,
🎶 listening to “Space Ritual (50th Anniversary 10CD + 1 Blu Ray Box Set)”. This album is a genuine favourite of mine; a demented romp through lysergic psychedelia, replete with poetry regarding sonic attacks, squawking sax and fuzzed out guitar riffs galore. Generally I find box sets to be uneven, with some content inevitably being rather weak. Not so here, with a collection I’d argue might just be among the best I’ve ever heard. Stunning additional live sets, and the remastered versions are noticeably better too. Absolutely incredible.
📺 watching “Blondie at the BBC”. When the band’s later-era hit “Good Boys” came on, I pointed out to my son that I, along with my mate Jim, had remixed this song, only to have our mix rejected by Sony in favour of a Giorgio Moroder one (in hindsight, the right call, LOL). Some kind soul had uploaded our remix to YouTube so I asked if he wanted to hear it. “Nah”, came the reply. So there you go: you can remix Blondie and your kids still won’t give a damn 😆
🤖 playing with this Ableton Live manual GPT. By uploading the whole Live manual into a GPT, you are able to ask it questions in conversational English and get replies. Incredible. Suspect this is the future for all manuals of any complexity now.
Stories from the Music Industry:
As Roblox has grown, its demographics have also widened beyond its original core userbase of children. 57% of its users are now older than 13 years old, and 17-24 year-olds are the fastest-growing segment of its community. Dagogo-Jack said that as Roblox has grown and widened its appeal, so the music industry has deepened its understanding of the platform, and what labels and artists can do on it. Initially focused on one-off virtual performances, it is now seeing more focus on community-building; different kinds of events including meet’n’greets; projects that involve working with popular existing Roblox games and experiences; and exploration of virtual merch.
👆🏻Hot take: I really enjoyed this interview with Karibi Dagogo-Jack at Roblox. It showcases all manner of activations, providing (hopefully!) plenty of inspiration for what’s possible on the platform. A space to explore if you’re not already.
Universal, Concord and ABKCO ask court for injunction to stop Anthropic’s AI from using their song lyrics
In that document, also obtained by MBW, and which you can read in full here, the companies state that they seek two pieces of “interim relief”. First, “Anthropic should be ordered to implement effective guardrails to prevent output that reproduces, distributes, and displays” the companies’ works. Second, Anthropic should be prohibited from using “existing unauthorized copies or creating new unauthorized copies” of the publishers’ lyrics to train new AI models.
👆🏻Hot take: after last week’s dramas, I wouldn’t say this looks good for Anthropic. Could this be the lawsuit that sets the precedent? Don’t bet against it.
We Are Giant describes itself as an ad-free platform that offers artists a range of tools to monetize their work and create deeper connections with their fanbase. The platform’s features include licensed listening parties for new music and unreleased demos, exclusive livestreams, interactive chat rooms with musicians, and more.
👆🏻Hot take: curious to see more of this platform (I can’t currently use it as it’s iOS only - a real bugbear of mine, heheh)
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
“We’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team,” says Nadella. “We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
👆🏻Hot take: a phenomenal coup for Microsoft here, and a dramatic end to a truly bizarre weekend of “he’s gone, he’s back, he’s gone again” headlines regarding Sam Altman. In essence they have poached the entire brain trust of OpenAI barring it’s chief data scientist. OpenAI might yet reflect on this in time as the pivotal point where its fortunes changed.
“The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” Musk said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. Musk on Wednesday agreed with a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user, who referenced the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, was speaking “the actual truth”.
👆🏻Hot take: I feel it says everything about Musk that he would rather throw lawsuits around than reflect on the state of the X platform that has led to this situation.
Announced at Microsoft Ignite 2023, Azure AI Speech is trained with human images and allows users to input a script that can then be “read” aloud by a photorealistic avatar created with artificial intelligence. Users can either choose a preloaded Microsoft avatar or upload footage of a person whose voice and likeness they want to replicate. Microsoft said in a blog post published on Wednesday that the tool could be used to build “conversational agents, virtual assistants, chatbots and more”.
👆🏻Hot take: a perfect example of the moral issues around AI. Yes, this is powerful…. but also has the potential for abuse.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
OpenAI introduced custom GPTs in November. Is this a genuine game changer for generative AI? Or is it just another fun gimmick?
👆🏻Hot take: a great entry-level guide on the potential of ChatGPT’s custom GPTs. Once again: this is an area you should all be getting familiar with!
Defector, 404, Aftermath, and Hell Gate showcase both the liberating journalistic potential and business success in worker-owned media.
👆🏻Hot take: a welcome slice of positivity detailing how co-operative media businesses are thriving.
The latest from Motive Unknown’s world:
Quaranta, the new album from Danny Brown, is out now! The fusion of head-nodding beats and introspective lyrics makes it his most powerful release yet.
We've had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented team at Warp, supporting with ad spend, D2C ads, and digital strategy! 🛸 ❤️
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