Musician Peter Gabriel recently talked with Yahoo Entertainment about the future of AI. In the introduction to the new guidebook Reverberation: Do Everything Better With Music, the activist wrote:
“Many years ago, [Genesis] did a show called The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and my plan for the beginning was to take brain and body readings from each member of the band and turn them into music. It was 1974, and the technology wasn’t yet able to deliver what I imagined. Today, it’s all there — and more.”
“If we choose, we can all become the creators of our own self-generated sound and light show, which, using some smart AI, we could learn to design ourselves to serve our needs at any time. Bringing AI into the musical mix will allow us to turn our own brain activity in the self-generated music: less deejay, more ‘me’-jay.”
Almost 50 years later, the future that Gabriel envisioned is becoming more of a reality. The 73-year-old artist (as evidenced by his Reverberation foreword, in which says “we are entering an age of big changes” and “extraordinary things are happening as this new frontier opens up”) is still embracing all of it — albeit with some necessary, healthy trepidation.
“In the ‘70s, there were people starting to experiment with biofeedback. … But the equipment wasn’t there [yet]. It is definitely is now. And there’s a lot of cool AI stuff, which is just about to turn our lives upside-down. But that’s another story,” Gabriel tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I’m probably just as scared [of AI] as everybody else, but I like to jump in the river rather than talk about it. … I do think about it quite a lot, and I think not enough people are thinking about it. And it would be great to get ahead [of it]. You know, this is something that’s going have way more impact than the Industrial Revolution and the nuclear bomb. So, if we don’t start anticipating what it might do, it’s going to be too late, because it’s very fast.”
Gabriel was asked to elaborate — specifically, if he’s concerned that artificial intelligence will soon put him and other living, breathing musicians out of work.
“Most people argue no; I would say they just need better algorithms,” Gabriel answers with a chuckle. “Some would argue [that you can’t replace] the [human] spirit — but I think there are probably going to be algorithms for the spirit, too! So, we might as well just grab the algorithms and dance with them, rather than fight them. … Unfortunately, I don’t think my job or anyone’s job is safe from AI. The way to look at it, though, is this amazing toolkit is just coming into our possession and we could do all sorts of extraordinary things, including perhaps — and I do say ‘perhaps’ — protecting our future.