Holly Herndon Responds to Grimes and Zola Jesus Music Debate
"I'm not worried about robot overlords"
In the wake of a heated debate about the role technology will take in the future of music creation and performance, Herndon has shared a lengthy essay on Twitter, drawing from her experience creating music aided by AI technologies on her latest record PROTO.
"I'm not worried about robot overlords," she wrote. "I'm worried about democratically unaccountable transnational companies training us all to understand culture like a robot or narrow AI."
She continued: "If AI is the next step in human coordination, what can we coordinate together? I don't think that idea is incompatible with an AI avatar (@Grimes) representation of an artist at all. That can be really interesting! I also don't think it is incompatible with strong scenes that bring music meaning (@ZolaJesus). I hope that music will continue to define the lives of people who congregate around it and fall in love with it, just as it has defined all of our lives enough to be concerned about this issue."
Previously, Grimes had appeared on a podcast, on which she states that AI will make live music "obsolete" and that "everyone's gravitating towards the shimmery perfected Photoshop world."
Zola Jesus, Devon Welsh and others later responded with criticism saying that Grimes was spreading "Silicon Valley fascist propaganda."
Zola Jesus in particular was very outspoken about the dangers of Grimes' cynicism, noting that "the further we distance ourselves from our humanity, the easier it will be to oppress us."
Grimes later responded to the backlash, clarifying that "there's no question that a live human performer is one of the most moving this we can experience," but that it "doesn't mean we shouldn't engage in thought experiments of what could happen in the future."
See Herndon's full post below, as well as responses from Grimes and Austra.
Wow thanks for writing this !! 🖤Sorry 4 late reply I just got off plane//have to run to a thing so will respond in more meaningful way 2mrw BUT **curious why u think sentient ai is a fantasy?🤖 was referring 2 AGI in podcast as I agree regular ai cannot fully replace humans— ༺GRIM ≡ﾟS༻ (@Grimezsz) November 27, 2019
:) we can't discount long term possibility of AGI, but often debates on machine consciousness obscure urgent concerns about contemporary cognitive AI and its current impact on culture and society. We get closer to AGI the more robotic and predictable humans become! Talk l8r <3— Holly Herndon (@hollyherndon) November 27, 2019
This feels aligned with the brian eno concept of "scenius" rather than "genius" - that every individual we perceive as "genius" often comes from a scene or community where ideas were exchanged, and often those communities are erased in favour of celebrating individual achievement— Austra (@austratalks) November 27, 2019