Avoiding the Technology Trap with Innovation

Nicholas Thompson’s regular posts on The Most Interesting Thing in Tech are informative, timely and enjoyable. However, sometimes the most interesting thing isn’t the tech, but the humans around it.

Generative AI is everywhere and has an enormous impact on the arts. Recently, Canadian electronic superstar artist Grimes announced that she is willing to work with her fans in creating the next wave of music. Grimes is willing to license all of her music to creators interested in generating AI-developed songs or remixed, where she will split the proceeds.

Nicholas Thompson’s The Most Interesting Thing in Tech daily post discusses this by using a conversation he had with his friend who is a jazz artist about this idea.

I found this post interesting because it focused on the tech and the quality but also found something that needs to be added: behavioural science and design. This isn’t a surprise about the focus on tech — that’s what Nicholas Thompson speaks about. But if this conversation included a behavioural designer, it would go differently for me.

Talking Tech with Designers

The issue with AI and the spread of new music is as much about how people follow and recommend music as it is about the quality or content of it. Consider how artists and producers focus on the technical aspects of a sound and how that fits with how most of us listen to music most of the time. Looking at recent data (below) most of these locations and means do not lend themselves to high-fidelity sound.

Platforms like Spotify are predicated on social sharing, personal recommendations and peer-to-peer exchanges. We often learn about new music from those in our immediate social circle or through algorithm-oriented recommendation engines. Most people tend to listen to music that their friends like or that’s similar to what others like. We enjoy concerts because of the shared experience of the music.

This social aspect promotes music’s wide distribution and consumption. However, it is also because of that sharing and the trust that we build between people that we are more likely to consume music that might be AI-generated instead of an artist’s original. This is taking the perspective that we need to understand how people use and enjoy music before we can assess how likely quality, provenance or distribution issues affect whether people will listen or not.

The technology trap gets us focused on the tech, not the people using the tech. A behavioural design approach can get us to widen our lens and anticipate what else might happen with the tech.

Please check Nicholas Thompson’s post and my response or thoughts below. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but with some different ways of thinking, we might know what to look for as things evolve.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to build some skills in seeing things through a behavioural design perspective, let’s grab a coffee and connect.

Photo by James Owen on Unsplash

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