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Anna Indiana Is a Glimpse Into Our Soulless AI Future

Anna Indiana’s “performance” leaves me with one simple question: Who really wants this?
Anna Indiana

Last Friday was the worldwide debut of “Betrayed by This Town,” the first song from AI “singer-songwriter” Anna Indiana. According to the tweet, “[e]verything from the key, tempo, chord progression, melody notes, rhythm, lyrics, and my image and singing, is auto-generated using AI.”

I tried listening to “Betrayed by This Town” with an open mind. It is, however, utterly soulless, from the generic chord progression, thin production, forgettable lyrics, and awkward “singing” to Anna’s appearance, which lands squarely in the “uncanny valley” with the slightest turn of the head.

AI supporters and aficionados will undoubtedly contend that Anna Indiana will only improve over time, given the generative nature of AI, as it “learns.” Or, perhaps more accurately, becomes better at mimicking. (On a side note, one wonders just how many songs by human artists have been used to develop Anna Indiana’s learning model without proper compensation.)

Anna Indiana’s “performance” leaves me with one simple question: Who really wants this? It’s impressive on a technical level, but for all of the talk of AI ushering in a golden age, how does this actually benefit humanity? Way back in 2016, Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, was shown a demo of some AI-generated animation. His response — “I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself.” — instantly went viral. Those words quickly came to mind while watching Anna Indiana.

A young woman from my church recently moved to Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter. She has actual musical talent that she’s been developing and honing since she was a little girl. Any one of her performances, even in the smallest coffeehouse or dingiest dive bar, has more skill, more personality — more soul — than anything Anna Indiana could “create.”

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