Daft Punk member who performed as robot now terrified of AI

Thomas Bangalter, one of the two former members of the iconic music duo Daft Punk, has revealed the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) scares him – even though the band performed as robots for almost 30 years.

The musician, 48, stressed – ironically – that Daft Punk did not symbolize the increasing popularization of AI. Generative chatbots such as ChatGPT are all the rage now, although many experts and scientists have already urged the world to manage their development responsibly.

Bangalter told the BBC that the creative process at Daft Punk was very much human-based and not algorithmic at all. In other words, the line between humanity and technology was always clear.

“I love technology as a tool but I'm somehow terrified of the nature of the relationship between the machines and ourselves. My concerns about the rise of artificial intelligence go beyond its use in music creation,” the musician said.

Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the other member of the band, split in 2021, eight years after releasing Daft Punk’s final album, Random Access Memories, which won the Grammy award for album of the year.

It was a good time to end the project, Bangalter told the BBC: “The last thing I would want to be, in the world we live in, in 2023, is a robot.”

The world of music, and arts in general, is immersed in discussions over the use of AI in creation. For example, the DJ David Guetta has said “the future of music is in AI” and used the tech to add an Eminem-like vocal to a song recently.

On the other hand, Nick Cave, a cult singer-songwriter, took the time to denounce ChatGPT as a “grotesque mockery”.

“This is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be rolled back, or slowed down, as it moves us toward a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction,” Cave wrote on his blog.

In March, almost two thousand notable signatories, including Elon Musk, boss of Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, signed an open letter calling on all AI labs to pause training of powerful systems.

“Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, render us obsolete, and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders,” the letter said.

But this week four AI experts expressed concern after their work was cited in an open letter, and critics have accused the Future of Life Institute (FLI), the organization behind the letter, of prioritizing imagined apocalyptic scenarios over more immediate concerns about AI, such as racist or sexist biases. The Musk Foundation is a major donor to FLI.

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