AI Geekly - RIP RIAA

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

Welcome back to the AI Geekly, by Brodie Woods, bringing you yet another week of fast-paced AI developments packaged neatly in a 5 minute(ish) read.

TL;DR RIAA’s Tears for Fears; Searching for Savants; OpenAI finds its your voice

This week we have an eclectic mix for our readership’s eclectic tastes. We open with a look at some new AI tech that promises to disrupt the music industry in a way that far surpasses cassette tapes, the internet and digital downloads (all former nemeses of the RIAA). Next, we discuss considerations around finding AI talent as the race to deploy AI for needle-moving business cases heats up. Finally, we delve into two new releases from OpenAI in the disciplines of Voice and Image. Read on below.

How the Turn Tables….
Recording industry music cartel served its just desserts

What it is: a new music-generation app called spread virally this week. Suno allows users to create incredibly high-quality bespoke music of nearly any style from text-based prompts.

What it means: It means the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) just got a taste of what the Motion Picture Association (MPA) received with OpenAI’s Sora (recall Sora is OAI’s movie generation AI that poses a major threat to movie studios). Now it’s the RIAA’s turn to sweat.

Why it matters: We’ve mentioned music and sound generating AI tools in past issues of the Geekly, but Suno is next level. But don’t take our word for it; give it a listen: presenting the AI Geekly Blues by Brodie Woods + Suno AI.

Bloodsport - AI Talent Edition
The fight for AI talent remains competitive

What it is: Given the growing popularity of AI across disciplines, sectors, and use cases, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the very people who build these AI tools (engineers and researchers) and know how to use them (strategists and leaders) are in increasingly high demand. The very public battle over this talent between tech companies serves as showcase. Recently, Tesla opened-up about strategies it has had to use to prevent poaching of its talent by the likes of OpenAI.

What it means: Anyone with even a passing grasp of economics can parse that high demand and a limited pool of talent will lead to higher prices. Indeed, as Tesla fights to prevent brain drain it uses a tool that its CEO, the richest person on the planet, knows quite well: money. So, as long as you have an infinite supply of that, you’re good…

Why it matters (corporates): Rising prices. We’ve discussed in prior notes how now is the time for companies to be experimenting with AI. Those starting from a standstill today are still well positioned to begin iterating and learning how they can apply modern tools to their business. But time is running short. There simply are not enough resources to go around and demand is ticking ever-upward. Waiting around to “see how this all shakes out” can have only one outcome: higher prices and a dearth of true talent as stragglers are forced to move down the quality chain and settle for scraps.

Why it matters (society): We’ve repeatedly cautioned readers about the risks around precisely who is given the keys to the kingdom when it comes to deciding AI policy and meeting-out its advantages and disadvantages. We remain apprehensive that either governments or global tech superpowers could, or would, equitably distribute benefits given their current penchant for just the opposite. There is great risk in concentrating the power of AI in the hands of the wealthy via the pay-to-play model that limited talent has created. The only remedy, it would seem, is open source AI development. As researchers share their findings globally it acts as a rising tide, lifting all ships and ensuring the democratization of AI benefits.

OpenAI Sharpens Mimicry and Airbrushing Skills
New functionality for voice cloning and image editing

What it is: OpenAI has released expanded capabilities to its userbase. Select corporate clients have received access to Voice Engine, a tool that has the ability to clone one’s voice from only a 15-second sample. Additionally, subscribers to its paid ChatGPT Plus tier can now edit portions of an image using text prompts and its DALL-E 3 image generation model.

What it means: OpenAI continues to impress with its roll-out of incremental features to its paid ChatGPT Plus subscribers. The purpose of its ChatGPT product is twofold: First, it acts as a showcase of its commercial products which are primarily aimed at corporate players (i.e. all of the features it releases to the Chat product are available as commercial APIs). Second, it allows for rapid improvement of OAI’s AI assets via the application of Reinforcement Learning through Human Feedback (RLHF) whereby the interactions of users are used to improve the model.

Why it matters: Voice cloning and image modification are two capabilities with multiple applications for individuals and companies. Voice cloning can help with the creation of avatars and AI agents empowered to act on behalf of their owners. These agents could be used for a variety of purposes including the completion of monotonous verbal tasks for individuals (cancelling a subscription over the phone, checking stock of an item), and corporates (oration on quarterly earnings calls, automated client interactions, audio content creation from franchise talent, etc.).

Take a deep breath: We know that there are many pearl-clutchers firmly in the anti-AI camp who must find these capabilities simultaneously alarming and also justification for their latent fear. Certainly, there is risk of misuse of this technology (the FCC just outlawed AI political calls due to a simulated-Joe-Biden voice AI robocall campaign). OpenAI are no fools (November Altman firing antics notwithstanding), they have introduced various safety measures to mitigate negative impacts (trusted initial release, watermarking of audio, etc.). As we’ve stated time and again the risk of misuse does not justify tossing-out the baby with the bath water. Such foolishness calls to mind a cautionary tale from the history books: society must avoid treating AI technology in the same way that Canada treated its Avro Arrow supersonic jet.

Fear drives foolishness: Students of history will recall that the 1959 Diefenbaker government scuttled Canada’s world-leading innovative fighter jet program, cut the jets into pieces and threw them into Lake Ontario (seriously, they actually did this). It’s impossible to predict the impact of such ludicrous luddite behavior, but it’s fair to say that progress was held back by short-sighted fears, however justified they may seem at the time. Fear of the unknown or risk-aversion should not be used as an excuse to rob future generations of their birthright: progress. Don’t dwell on the risks: mitigate and move on.

Before you go… We have one quick question for you:

If this week's AI Geekly were a stock, would you:

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

About the Author: Brodie Woods

With over 18 years of capital markets experience as a publishing equities analyst, an investment banker, a CTO, and an AI Strategist leading North American banks and boutiques, I bring a unique perspective to the AI Geekly. This viewpoint is informed by participation in two decades of capital market cycles from the front lines; publication of in-depth research for institutional audiences based on proprietary financial models; execution of hundreds of M&A and financing transactions; leadership roles in planning, implementing, and maintaining of the tech stack for a broker dealer; and, most recently, heading the AI strategy for the Capital Markets division of the eighth-largest commercial bank in North America.