Vancouver – straight up. Near W. Georgia and Seymour streets.

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AI and the future of music copyright

Rick Beato’s recent interview with Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA focused as much on AI technology as on the creation of ABBA’s songs and records. The co-writer of “Waterloo,” “SOS,” and “Dancing Queen” was mostly sanguine – indeed, enthusiastic – about artificial intelligence’s likely effect on human creativity generally and on musical composition specifically. (Ulvaeus – who is president of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – has some intelligent prescriptions for handing copyright and royalty protections in this new era, too.) It’s an edifying interview.

from basil.CA

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Google Bard

Sorry, Canada!

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First out of the gate

A reader from south of the border forwarded along this interesting report from the Kramer Levin law firm describing “China’s groundbreaking regulations to vet AI”:

China put these measures in place “[i]n order to promote the healthy development and standardized application of generative artificial intelligence, safeguard national security and social public interests, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons, and other organizations.”

The regulations apply to the use of generative AI technology to provide services for generating text, pictures, audio, video and other content. … AI services must “[r]espect intellectual property rights” and “the legitimate rights and interests of others … and must not infringe on the portrait rights, reputation rights, honor rights, privacy rights, and personal information rights of others.” …

Under the newly adopted regulations, all generative AI providers must register their services and submit these services to a security review by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the state cyberspace and information department, prior to their public release. …

The regulations also require that all content created by generative AI be properly marked or labeled as such to prevent any generative AI material from being mistaken as human-authored content. …

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Ethan Mollick on Using Artificial Intelligence in Student Writing

I have added Ethan Mollick’s substack blog, “One Useful Thing,” to our Resources list (above). A professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mollick writes that he’s “trying to understand what our new AI-haunted era means for work and education.” I have found his posts terrifically useful, in particular his recent discussion “How to Use AI to Do Stuff,” which I recommended to my third-year students recently, drawing attention to these caveats:

Some things to worry about: In a bid to respond to your answers, it is very easy for the AI to “hallucinate” and generate plausible facts. It can generate entirely false content that is utterly convincing. Let me emphasize that: AI lies continuously and well. Every fact or piece of information it tells you may be incorrect. You will need to check it all. Particularly dangerous is asking it for references, quotes, citations, and information for the internet (for the models that are not connected to the internet). …

It also can be used unethically to manipulate or cheat. You are responsible for the output of these tools. [emphasis mine]

Two key points that remain true about AI:

  • AI is a tool. It is not always the right tool. Consider carefully whether, given its weaknesses, it is right for the purpose to which you are planning to apply it.
  • There are many ethical concerns you need to be aware of. AI can be used to infringe on copyright, or to cheat, or to steal the work of others, or to manipulate. And how a particular AI model is built and who benefits from its use are often complex issues, and not particularly clear at this stage. Ultimately, you are responsible for using these tools in an ethical manner.

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Newspaper names: a charming taxonomy

We are fans of Jay Rosen here at No Contest.

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Twitter alternatives

This is a clear picture from The Evening Standard.

I think that, looking back, Twitter will be regarded as an unnecessary calamity rather than as a necessary community.

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Your title is verbose.

An example of editing.

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Yelling at your editor

In earlier writing here on mentorship, I noted that you do not have to actually like your mentors to have a fruitful relationship with them. In one post, “Mentorship without Friendship,” I wrote: “A mentor sees in her or his mentee a devotion that is shared – or that could be – to a craft, a topic, or to an art. (It is almost never a shared devotion to a person.) … Friendship, if it happens, happens elsewhere, and later.”

I recalled these pieces while reading this wonderful interview with Robert Gottlieb in The Paris Review. Gottlieb, who passed away the other day, was an editor whose list of authors was so outlandishly esteemed, prolific, and indeed truly great, as to be, literally, incredible – but there you go, all those books are there and they surround us with art and majesty and more than a half century of true culture. In The Paris Review interview Gottlieb’s words are surrounded by those of numerous authors (Toni Morrison, Joseph Heller, Doris Lessing, John le Carré, and others you all know), to illustrate the relationship between authors and their editor.

My favourite remarks came from Robert Caro, which oddly elated me:

I have a bad temper and, though Bob [Robert Gottlieb] would deny it, so does he. While we were editing we were always jumping up and getting out of the room to cool off. Now he, of course, had the great advantage over me because when we were working at Knopf he could leave and go to somebody else’s office and transact some business, but I had no place to go but the bathroom. I went to the bathroom a lot, as I remember. And oh, his tone! If you heard his tone! It gets me so angry I have to try to drown it out. I try not to hear the insulting things he’s saying because, as I said, I have a very bad temper. …

Bob and I would have big fights over colons and semicolons. Semicolons are not quite as forceful as colons. And dashes are very important to me—I establish my rhythm with them. We could spend a long time fighting over an adjective. We had such fights that sometimes he would bring in another editor as a buffer. …

In all the hours of working on The Power Broker [Caro’s book on Robert Moses] Bob never said one nice thing to me—never a single complimentary word, either about the book as a whole or about a single portion of the book. That was also true of my second book, The Path to Power [about President Lyndon Johnson]. But then he got soft. When we finished the last page of the last book we worked on, Means of Ascent, he held up the manuscript for a moment and said, slowly, as if he didn’t want to say it, Not bad. Those are the only two complimentary words he has ever said to me, to this day. …

We have, basically, no social relationship whatsoever. When the Book-of-the-Month Club bought the first volume of the Lyndon Johnson trilogy they had a lunch for me. Al Silverman, who was then the president, started the conversation saying, Well, you two must see so much of each other . . . There was an embarrassing silence—at that point Bob and I hadn’t seen each other socially for years. 

They shared a devotion to the same thing: the book. You couldn’t say they did not care about one another, because they did and they absolutely had to, but neither saw any need to like the other.

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Copyright laws have always been a real bear

Ted Goia’s Substack newsletter is enlightening – with truly startling frequency – about things I probably should have known about already. From yesterday’s post:

The most extreme case of music copyright comes from Elizabethan England. Here the Queen gave William Byrd and Thomas Tallis a patent covering all music publishing for a period of 21 years.  Not only did the two composers secure a monopoly over English music, but they also could prevent retailers or other entrepreneurs in the country from selling “songs made and printed in any foreign country.”

If anybody violated this patent, the fine was 40 shillings. And the music itself was seized and given to Tallis and Byrd. They probably had quite a nice private library of scores by the time the patent expired.

But that’s not all. Byrd and Tallis’s stranglehold on music was so extreme it even covered the printing of blank music paper. That meant that other composers had to pay Tallis and Byrd even before they had written down a single note. Not even the Marvin Gaye estate makes those kinds of demands. [link mine]


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