Peter Gabriel on the future of AI: ‘We can only catch up with algorithms and dance with them instead of fighting them’

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Peter Gabriel (Photo: Nadine Kander)

“Many years ago, [Genesis] did a show called the lamb lay down on broadway, and for starters my plan was to take mind and body readings from each member of the band and turn them into music. It was 1974, and technology was not yet capable of delivering what I had envisioned. Today, it is all of this – and much more,” writes pioneering musician, producer and activist Peter Gabriel in the introduction to the new guidebook Echo: Make Everything Better With Music, “If we choose, we can all become creators of our own generated sound and light shows that, using some smart AI, can learn to design themselves to fit our needs at any given moment Bringing AI into the music mix will allow us to transform our own brain activity into self-produced music: less DJ, more ‘me’-jay.

Nearly 50 years later, the future that Gabriel envisioned is now becoming a reality. And unlike many of his Boomer peers, who disapprove of the new technology, the 73-year-old artist (as shown by his echo The foreword, which states that “we are entering an era of great change” and “extraordinary things are happening as this new frontier opens”) still seems to embrace it all – albeit with some necessary, healthy nervousness. with.

“In the ’70s, people were starting to experiment with biofeedback. … But the equipment wasn’t there. [yet], It definitely is now. And there’s a lot of great AI stuff that’s about to turn our lives upside down. But that’s another story,” Gabriel told Yahoo Entertainment. “I’m probably just as scared [of AI] Like everyone else, but I’d rather jump in the river than talk about it. … I think about it a lot, and I don’t Sufficient People are thinking about it. and it would be great to move on [of it], You know, this is something that’s going to have a far greater impact than the Industrial Revolution and the atomic bomb. So, if we don’t start speculating about what it might do, it will be too late, because it’s so fast.”

Yahoo Entertainment certainly asks Gabriel to elaborate — especially, if he’s concerned that artificial intelligence will soon put him and other living, breathing musicians out of work. surely a robot could never Kate Bush duet “Don’t Give Up” (which Elton John credits him with helping him get sober.) or prestigious say anything The soundtrack song “In Your Eyes,” isn’t it?

“Most people do not argue; I would say they just need better algorithms,” Gabriel replies with a laugh. “Some would argue [that you can’t replace] [human] Soul – but I think there are probably going to be algorithms for soul too! So, we can just embrace the algorithms and dance with them instead of fighting them. … Unfortunately, I don’t think my or anyone’s job is safe from AI. The way to look at it, though, is that this amazing toolkit is coming into our possession right now and we can do all kinds of extraordinary things, including maybe—and I Doing Say ‘Maybe’ – Protecting our future.

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“It’s like King Canute and the waves,” continues Gabriel matter-of-factly. “The story we have is that he tried to hold back the tide using his royal powers: the tide won. The same goes for AI. It’s coming whether we like it or not, so we’re going to fight against it.” instead of working can try and work with it, and make sure that it has programs that protect ethics and some sort of ethics. Because I remember — and this was 20 years ago The thing is – I was in a session with these military chiefs and somebody was asked, ‘Okay, we’re going out on the robot battlefield; how long are humans going to survive?’ And he said, ‘By current count, 18 seconds!’ And the idea is that if we try to find intelligent life on other planets, that when an intelligent species is smart enough to destroy itself, that often happens. I hope we don’t fall into that trap. Won’t get stuck, but we can have a great party on the way to jump off the cliff.

echo, a New “Brains-on-Music” Entertainment, Media & Tech Studio Founded by Gabriel, entrepreneur Michael Hermann, and Peter’s daughter, filmmaker/photographer Anna Gabriel, can help solve this modern dilemma. Harman explains, “A big part of these music interventions that we’re trying to explore with leading researchers [24 of which were interviewed for Reverberation: Do Everything Better With Music] are around AI – basically not just music that can be created, but existing music, to work for caregivers, for dementia patients, but also for more practical reasons like increasing focus, increasing leadership in the workplace, Also teams up for creative growth and building. A lot of it is going to be AI-forward, and we’re doing our best to stay ahead of that conversation.

Musician Peter Gabriel with Reverberation co-founders Michael Herman and Anna Gabriel at SiriusXM in 2022.  (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Musician Peter Gabriel with Reverberation co-founders Michael Herman and Anna Gabriel at SiriusXM in 2022. (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

“there is one interesting chomsky articles In new York Times [“The False Prophet of ChatGPT”] If you want to dig in there – but I don’t agree with that, and I think there are some really smart AI people in London at the moment and they’re seriously concerned. But in the meantime, we can get mass health advice, including what we’re trying to do here,” Peter says optimistically. “Lightning, electromagnetic fields … put consumer electronics in the hands of billions of people. There will be high-tech healthcare. And then, education: Best teachers, best learning. Just as industrialization brought everyone together, this new personalised, AI-powered revolution will allow it to be individually designed for us. And hopefully that may be, if it is well done, [have] The ability to create a just world.

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The tech company’s first project from Harman and Gabriels Enchantment: Make everything better with music, written by veteran Proverb,Rolling stone Journalist and former World Science Festival chief digital officer Keith Blanchard, who says Anna is “something you can flip on and use music, how music can change us and affect our brains. ” Firmly rooted in “science, science, science”, as Herman says, but “all our collective artistry laid on top of it” and simple enough for even the savviest person to understand , echo serves as the music fan’s handy guide to increasingly complex modern life. Herman says, “The book was literally and physically engineered, inside and out, to be carried with you, in your bag, in your purse, in your pocket, in your pocket.”

As Peter writes in his echo Foreword: “We all have different ways of interacting with music, and for many of us, listening is something we do without much thought, like breathing. But if we can begin to understand a little better this merchandising stuff called music, it can give us a powerful toolkit whenever and wherever it is needed – music as medicine, as teacher, as therapist. This book is all about won’t provide answers, but I hope it will allow us to ask better questions.”

It’s all clearly just one component of a bigger vision for Peter, who in September will be playing songs from his upcoming 10th studio album on his first tour since 2014. I/O, which he has actually been working on since 2002. He says he’s “still trying to figure out” his 1974 idea of ​​a biofeedback-driven concert, during which he would get “three outputs from each musician – one, their music; two, their body; three, their brain – and they could control the images. So, for example, there’s a song, we can have people’s faces like a hall of mirrors at a fairground, and we can have big notes that move around their faces. expand or thicken them. Or if they’re thinking deep thoughts, they might drift away and become more ghost-like or spirit-like. … You’ll measure whether they’re leaving the beta state. and going into alpha gamma waves, or whatever. Peter also revealed that he is still “trying to work towards a brain show,” explaining, “Michael and Keith Before that, I was working on a show about the mind, which is another slow-burner that I hope will explore where to move forward. so, certainly the scientists that I’ve met through [Reverberation research] That’s going to help inform how I develop that project. And there’s a song or two on this record [i/o] He will belong to her.

Meanwhile, there is Echo: Make Everything Better With Music, which is divided into digestible, actionable, goal-oriented chapters—so in a brainstorming session, so to speak, Yahoo Entertainment asks Peter to assign his own songs to the book’s sections. For the chapter “Relax”, he suggests his “meditative” 2000 instrumental “The Nest That Sold the Sky” or The Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ, For the makeout-playlist-themed “Love”, he shrugs, “I mean, ‘In Your Eyes’ has an effect on people”; And for “Thrive,” a workout/fitness chapter, Yahoo Entertainment helpfully suggests its 152-bpm banger “Shock the Monkey.” The core idea of ​​the company and the book is that music can heal – which clearly, despite Peter’s pragmatic and realistic attitude towards AI, makes a strong case for the art form’s enduring human element.

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,two songs [of mine] that I get so many letters about ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Biko,'” Peter said, when asked about his compositions that have helped and healed listeners the most. Don’t guess it, and it’s very humbling when someone says, ‘I decided not to kill myself because I just put this song on repeat.’ When you board your little paper boat, you never know it’s going to land in some of those places. This is a very good point.”

Above, watch Yahoo Entertainment’s roundtable with Peter and Anna Gabriel, Michael Herman, and Keith Blanchard, in which they discuss Reverberation’s mission statement and the impact of music on the human brain.

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