Spotify CEO Daniel Ek warns laws to regulate AI could become obsolete

Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has cast a cautious tone on urgent calls for AI regulation, warning any laws implemented now would quickly become obsolete.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Ek argued the speed of change in the capabilities of artificial intelligence meant it was difficult to build laws that would stand the test of time.

“It’s very much developing in real time. AI capabilities six months ago are not going to be the same as they are in a year or two years from now,” the Spotify co-founder told the FT.

AI’s risks

AI’s capabilities have progressed at a breakneck pace in the last 12 months following the symbolic launch of OpenAI’s chatbots including DALL-E and ChatGPT.

Major tech competitors, from Google to Microsoft, have since entered the race to create generative AI models, building their own or investing in current chatbots. 

The stock market has also been sent into overdrive by investor buzz for AI—chipmaker Nvidia’s share price has increased nearly three-fold since the start of 2023 on the back of the hype.

However, there have been growing warnings that the unregulated growth of AI could have dire consequences. 

Experts are concerned with the development of artificial generative intelligence, also known as AGI, which has the ability to replicate human capabilities and reasoning. That technology may be just a few years away, the CEO of Google’s Deepmind said.

In May, more than 300 of the world’s most distinguished experts on AI— including OpenAI founder Sam Altman—called for urgent moves to mitigate the risk of extinction from AI. In a one-sentence statement, the experts said AI should be given the same priority as pandemics and nuclear war for its potential to wipe out humanity.

A couple of weeks prior to the publishing of that letter, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said AI had the same potential as nuclear weapons to start a new era of Cold War-style tensions between the US and China. 

Alongside fears over the safety of AI have been more imminent threats to the labor market. The technology, particularly AGI, has the potential to make jobs in various industries obsolete.

A new trend called “FOBO,” or “fear of being obsolete,” is being used to reflect a Gallup survey showing nearly one in four Americans fear having their jobs replaced by AI.

The technology’s proliferation alongside these warnings has brought about a hasty response from regulators.

The European Union’s AI Act—a world first in the technology’s regulation—seeks to create barriers around the AI sector to ensure its safety and transparency. Regulation, passed in June, will vary based on the specific AI’s perceived risk profile. 

In November the U.K. will host the first global summit on AI with world leaders, announced a week after Altman and other experts expressed their concerns about the technology. 

AI music ‘tricky’

According to Ek, however, the contents of any laws moving to rein in AI could soon become redundant.

Ek himself has landed on the dovish side of AI’s potential. On a company earnings call in April, Ek said the technology could be “huge for creativity,” after a viral song made from the AI-cloned voices of Drake and The Weeknd hit the platform. He acknowledged there were new copyright concerns to be addressed following the release of the song titled Heart on My Sleeve by ghostwriter.

He followed up on the issue in September, telling the BBC the platform would not ban artificially created music while accepting it would be “tricky” to negotiate the new technology.

In September, a representative for Spotify told Fortune that the company was trialing the use of AI to translate podcasts into other languages. The development would also see the tech imitate the voices of podcast participants like The Diary of a CEO’s Steven Bartlett and Armchair Expert’s Dax Shephard.

A representative for Spotify didn’t immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

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