Musicians Ask Spotify Abandon Speech Recognition Patent

Image credit: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Those that have penned the open letter include Tom Orello, Talib Kweli, and DIIV.

The patent that was filed back in 2018 is a voice recognition system that could detect the emotional state, age, and gender of a person. It would then take that information and target the listener with personalised recommendations and personalized advertisements. Naturally, such a technology has made some people feel uncomfortable, however, this technology is already being used by companies such as Vevo. There is also an AI owned by Mirriad that “scans content for its emotional register moment by moment” allowing for them to place products “exactly the right place at the right time”. 

The non-profit company Access Now has sent Spotify a letter calling it to abandon its tech. This has now been backed up by several other groups as well as more than 180 musicians, including Rage Against the Machines Tom Morello and rapper Talib Kweli. They have been asking that Spotify publicly abandon the patent and commit to never using it. 

The letter directly addressed to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek outlines the five primary concerns with the technology. Stating that Spotify, or any other company that could use it, would manipulate users emotionally, harvest their personal information, and discriminate against Trans and Non-Binary people. The letter also claims that the technology will only further worsen financial inequalities within the music industry. The letter gives Mr. Ek till May 18th, 2021 to publicly respond.   

Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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