Don’t expect Ed Sheeran to throw his support behind AI-generated music any time soon.
In an interview with Audacy during a private gig at The Hard Rock Hotel in New York, Ed shared his thoughts on artificial intelligence technology, which he described as “a bit weird”.
“What I don’t understand about AI is, for the last 60 years, Hollywood movies have been telling you, ‘Don’t do it,’” he told Audacy host Bru.
“And now everyone’s doing it,” he added. “Have you not seen the movies where they kill us all?”
“I just don’t know why you need it – if you’re taking a job away from a human being, I think that’s probably a bad thing,” he continued.
“The whole point of society is we all do jobs. If everything is done by robots, everybody’s gonna be out of work. I just find AI a bit weird.”
The rise of AI is certainly a contentious topic in the entertainment world right now. The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, both currently on strike, are fighting for assurances about the way this technology will be used in the future from the studios.
Writers are concerned that AI will be used to generate scripts in the future, thus impacting their livelihoods, while some actors are worried that their likenesses could be replicated using AI tools, cutting down their work and giving them less control over their projects they are featured in.
AI has also been used by creators to produce cover versions of songs in the style of certain artists, such as one viral version of Barbie Girl “sung” by Johnny Cash.
However, AI’s use in the music industry isn’t confined to replicating a particular voice. Paul McCartney caused confusion when he told BBC Radio 4 earlier this year that he would be using artificial intelligence to create a final Beatles track, featuring vocals from John Lennon.
Some fans were quick to assume that Paul would be using AI trickery to create his late bandmate’s vocals from scratch, prompting the Beatles legend to clear things up on Twitter.
“Nothing has been artificially or synthetically created,” he said, explaining that he would instead be utilising an AI-driven process known as stem separation, which allows users to separate various parts of an audio track, to clean up an old recording.
While groups like ABBA have used artificial intelligence and CGI technology to recreate their younger selves as “ABBAtars” for their virtual concert experience ABBA Voyage, other artists including Dolly Parton have confirmed they have no interest in doing so.
“I think I’ve left a great body of work behind,” Dolly told a conference in the UK earlier this year. “I don’t know how they’ll keep me around.”
“I’ll have to decide on how much of that high-tech stuff I want to be involved in because I don’t want to leave my soul here on this Earth,” she said. “I think with some of that stuff, I feel like I’ll be grounded here forever, so when I’m gone, I want to fly with it.”