Interviews Music Technology

Brian Eno on algorithms

“It could have been a world that didn’t automatically promote right wing nationalists and people like Donald Trump and conspiracy theories. That comes out of the system. The system leans that way”

Brian Eno knows a thing or two about technology, and at the screening of a new documentary about him, called Eno, he discussed the unbiased nature of algorithms:

[…] Eno shared an uncomfortable truth about algorithms, which he said are “not neutral” despite what most believe regarding the technology. The former Roxy Music member elaborated: “Algorithms are not transparent, they’re not like screwdrivers, or something like that. They have a personality, they have a direction, and encoded in them is a worldview. And if the worldview encoded in them as a sort of libertarian capitalist, individualistic worldview, that’s where we will end up. And I’m not being dramatic and saying that we’ve seen it happen with social media, social media could have run with different algorithms, it could have been a different world.”

via Far Out Magazine

Algorithms are only as good or useful as the data that moulds them and how they mould data. While it’s not as easy as “garbage in, garbage out” on its own, we’re not doing a good job of keeping these things clean. From a musical perspective, it’s not been great seeing AI music grow in popularity (or notoriety depending on where you stand), and the proliferation of AI art in album covers I’ve already written about—spoiler alert: I don’t like it.

Hi, it's Luke, the editor of Sampleface! Why not subscribe to my Patreon and support the blog?

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