AI competition statement

I have been disturbed by the negative reactions to the competition being run with Stability AI and want a chance to explain my position in this debate.

Rights and copyrights are critical for all artists and I have long been a defender. When an artist’s work is copied for commercial gain, there should be a right to choose to refuse it or to participate financially.

If anyone legitimately feels their copyright has been infringed by this competition, we and Stability AI will work to take down the video until the dispute has been resolved.

I have not received any payment from Stability AI. This project grew out of a conversation I had with the founder, Emad Mostaque, and a follow up meeting with his team. It was designed to be a playful, creative activity and not as a money-making exercise.

We are entering a world that is about to be fundamentally transformed by AI. Many people see AI as the enemy, but along with extraordinary scientific, functional and creative tools, it can provide great education and better healthcare to billions. It also has many inherent potential dangers that we urgently need to address.

Like the wheel, or the industrial revolution, I believe the changes coming with AI are unstoppable, but we can clearly influence them.

I have added my name to a letter written by Max Tegmark, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk amongst others to pause on the release of new AI for six months while we try and figure out what we should be doing, but if we don’t use this time to play with and learn from what we have already created how can we hope to understand it?

Should we defend artist rights and copyrights from AI? Absolutely. Should we defend human rights and democracy from AI? Absolutely. AI is a product of our species and we need to find ways to build the ethics, compassion and wisdom that we value, directly into the algorithms to protect and defend what is important to us.

For the arts, I think it’s very important that there are smart algorithms for recognising copyright infringement, whether in the work or in the prompts, and automatically embodying that information into the attached data.

There are amazing creative possibilities opening up with AI that are really exciting and transformative. I felt the same sort of buzz when computers came into music giving us samplers and rhythm machines, which, in turn, opened up new worlds of music making.

When the future has shown itself so clearly and is flowing as fast as a river after a storm, it seems wiser to swim with the current. AI is here. Let’s learn what we can and how we might adapt and evolve it to better serve everyone.

Peter Gabriel, 20 April 2023