So-called generative AI technology, where a computer program scrubs through a list of preexisting words, sounds, or images and “makes” something “new,” is an existential threat to pretty much everybody in one way or another, but it’s also notably one of the sticking points for the striking WGA and SAG-AFTRA members—who worry that big corporations, already predisposed to doing evil, will replace artists with computers as soon as possible. But why stop at actors and writers? What about musicians?
That was the question posed to Hozier (who is about to release a new album inspired by both the COVID pandemic and Dante’s Inferno, which sounds like a blast) recently in a chat with the BBC, during which he said that, yeah, he would “absolutely” join in on a hypothetical music industry strike to protect artists against the threat posed by AI. It doesn’t sound like he’s particularly sure about what that would look like—and, to be clear, it was the interviewers who brought it up and not him—or what exactly artists can do about AI, but he does think there needs to be a “philosophical debate” about whether or not what an AI does can even be considered “art.”
“It can’t create something based on a human experience,” Hozier explains, “so I don’t know if it meets the definition of art.” (Someone else might argue that it can’t create anything at all, which also makes it difficult for AI to create art, but his point stands.) These questions came after a recent viral trend of people making fake cover songs using AI replicas of celebrity voices, eventually leading to a customer service company uploading a fake Drake song with completely digital versions of him and The Weeknd, apparently to show how cool and powerful AI is (even though, in reality, it’s stupid and it sucks).
Elsewhere in the interview, Hozier talks about the death of fellow Irish artist Sinéad O’Connor, offering his opinion on why she was so brutally attacked for speaking out against the Catholic Church while nobody objected much to his “Take Me To Church” (which he has said is meant to be critical of the way religion teaches “shame about sexual orientation”). He also noted that his song is more relevant than ever, since they “didn’t have LGBTQ+-free zones in the European Union 10 years ago” or “armed militia waiting outside of, you know, gay and queer spaces.”