Queen's Brian May on AI: "We Might Look Back on 2023 as the Last Year Humans Really Dominated the Music Scene"

"We won't know which way is up. We won't know what's been created by AI and what's been created by humans," he says

Photo: Raph_PH

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Sep 11, 2023

In the wake of that AI-generated Drake and the Weeknd collaboration being submitted for Grammy consideration and the Recording Academy's subsequent decision that it actually shouldn't be eligible for music's biggest award, Queen guitarist Brian May has become the latest musician to weigh in on the "massively scary" threat the technology is posing to the industry (and, y'known, art).

In the latest issue of Guitar Player magazine, the musician admitted that he thinks we might eventually look back on this year as the end of the era where actual humans were the ones making the music scene what it is.

"I think by this time next year the landscape will be completely different," May told journalist Gary Graff. "We won't know which way is up. We won't know what's been created by AI and what's been created by humans."

He continued, "Everything is going to get very blurred and very confusing, and I think we might look back on 2023 as the last year when humans really dominated the music scene. I really think it could be that serious, and that doesn't fill me with joy. It makes me feel apprehensive, and I'm preparing to feel sad about this."

What May's expressing here immediately echoes Nick Cave's adamant stance on the use of the AI-powered language model ChatGPT for writing lyrics, the singer-songwriter having said that attempting to replicate songcraft with a chatbot was "a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human."

He later expanded his thoughts on the debate, adding, "That's what is so awesome about art: that we deeply flawed creatures can sometimes do extraordinary things. AI just doesn't have any of that stuff going on."

Conversely, artists like shy kids have argued that AI might serve as "another tool in the toolkit" for creatives.

May added that he could have more support for artificial intelligence in sectors beyond the arts, but he's still wary: "The potential for AI to cause evil is, obviously, incredibly huge — not just in music, because nobody dies in music — but people can die if AI gets involved in politics and world domination for various nations," he said. "I think the whole thing is massively scary. It's much more far-reaching than anybody realized — well, certainly [more] than I realized."

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