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When Michael Jackson sings BBs thanks to artificial intelligence

Thanks to the magic of artificial intelligence (AI), the budding comedian has managed to transform Michael Jackson’s voice into a Quebec hit You will never know BBC. An entirely unlikely, yet surprisingly realistic, explanation that again raises all kinds of ethical questions about the use of AI in music.

Mathieu Portillance, one of the members of the humorous collective Les Piles-Poils, wanted above all to make his subscribers laugh on social networks by singing this classic Quebec karaoke by the late King of Pop, the idea is absolutely ridiculous. But the end result is more realistic than he expected. Sometimes, in the recording, as eccentric as it may sound, one might believe that Michael Jackson actually sang in French, You will never know.

“It’s very annoying. If you hear it and don’t know it’s AI, you’ll notice that something sounds weird, but it’s still good. It has to be said that things have evolved quickly. In the fall, if we have Michael Jackson singing, it won’t sound so good.” It would even have sounded absurd. Next September, what will it sound like? It will probably ring more true than it does today “, affirms Mathieu Portelians.

Even if Portelance describes itself as a geek, you don’t need to be a tech geek to make such a montage. The comedian only had to create an account on the free Uberduck.AI website, where he downloaded a version You will never know It was sung by Véronic DiCaire on the BB tribute album. Then he was given a choice between several voices, most notably major international stars.

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With some singers who had a lower pitch, the trick seemed less plausible, since the BB song is not on their record. But with Michael Jackson’s high-pitched voice, what was initially supposed to be a joke turns out to be relatively realistic.

It’s not that hard to do. You can make some adjustments to improve the resonance or to give an effect He lives, but artificial intelligence does three-quarters of the work. “It takes five minutes,” says Mathieu Portelance, who believes the use of AI in music should be much better regulated.

ethical issues

With UberDuck.AI, he was also able to get Michael Jackson to sing on celebrities jingles From the Barbies Resto Bar Grill series in a funny video. As with the BB song, Mathieu Portelance made sure to point out that it was a parody. But the comedian fears that people with less intentions will hijack the AI ​​to deceive the audience.

Last month, an anonymous internet user managed to create a duet between Canadian superstars Drake and The Weeknd from scratch. The song racked up nine million views on TikTok, and even managed to infiltrate online listening platforms, before it was removed. Many believed in the authenticity of the song, which the two artists did not approve of.

The exploits of artificial intelligence pose several copyright challenges. Universal Music recently asked listening platforms to protect its catalog to prevent it from being used for AI software.

There is a legal problem with copyright, but there is also a philosophical problem with artificial intelligence. […] What makes music beautiful is not that it is technically perfect. Sometimes, what touches us in sound, in music, is precisely the imperfections. Why do we want to lose this? Why do we want to choose the easy way out by creating software? “It is precisely by stepping off the beaten path that we can innovate,” says DJ Poirier.

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The Montreal artist regularly uses samples from other songs to create his own tracks. A process unrelated, however, to artificial intelligence: “The take samples, It remains the point of view of a human artist in the work of another human being. There is re-context, taking a stand. »

The next revolution

Others, on the contrary, see artificial intelligence as the future of music. DJ David Guetta, who artificially recreated rapper Eminem’s voice on stage, even went so far as to compare AI to what an electric guitar was to rock music or a sampler to hip-hop.

SOCAN, the nation’s largest music copyright management association, recognizes that AI can also boost creativity. It still needs to be approved by the rights holders.

There is actually very strict protection in copyright law. The works are protected from their creation, and to use them, permission must be obtained from the rights holders. And in general, there is a financial reward for this. […] What we want is not to add new exceptions to the law to account for AI. “We want a law that is neutral in the face of new technologies,” says Alexandre Alonso, SOCAN’s executive director for Quebec affairs.

Let’s see in the video