Sunday, 03 Dec 2023

From hate speech to AI music: the YouTube chief trying to leap tech

From hate speech to AI music: the YouTube chief trying to leap tech?s biggest hurdles


From hate speech to AI music: the YouTube chief trying to leap tech

Alison Lomax's presence on the video streaming platform she runs is relatively scant compared with the YouTubers with whom she spends much of her time.

But what clips exist succinctly chart the marketing tech revolution she's been navigating: there's a badly framed 12 minutes from 2014 of Lomax lecturing on the rise of influencers working with brands; in another she describes how TV companies woke up to the potential of partnering with YouTube in 2016; and there's her on stage at London's podcast show this year, discussing YouTube's imminent relaunch into the booming audio format.

Now, Lomax stands at the "inflection point" of the next hot technology: the generative artificial intelligence behind chatbots such as ChatGPT and image generators such as MidJourney.

YouTube, launched in 2005, is no stranger to AI: it is used in its recommendation algorithm; to moderate content; and, latterly, for automatic language translation. "We're committed to embracing AI in a bold way," says Lomax. "But we have to do it really responsibly."

To this end, YouTube has published a set of AI principles designed to give assurance it would partner with the music industry to balance copyright holders' interests with those creating generative AI-based songs, such as those from the Oasis knockoff AIsis.

Lomax says the focus is on "protecting artists' integrity and creative expression". Meanwhile, she says a project with Universal to create an incubator for artists to research AI's potential shows the "strength of the partnership" with the music industry.

Will YouTube watermark videos when AI has been used? "There's no answer on that yet," Lomax straight-bats in response, declining also to answer how the site plans to monetise AI or whether the Bard chatbot from its parent company Google scrapes the platform. Lomax is also coy on whether YouTube will further increase royalty payments to ultimately match Spotify, amid scrutiny over musicians' revenue, but says the platform has been "very instrumental" in breaking artists such as Ed Sheeran and Drake.

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