As artificial intelligence (AI) technology continues to evolve, concerns about its impact on society, particularly in the world of art, have grown. However, experimental musician and artist Holly Herndon believes that AI is not a threat to human creativity and that we should embrace its potential to enhance our lives. Herndon's Holly+ project is a tool that allows other artists to create music using an AI-generated likeness of her voice. The works created using Holly+ are essentially vocal deepfakes sanctioned and encouraged by Herndon.
Herndon's approach shows a way forward for not just artists, but for the rest of society, as well. Instead of rejecting new technology, workers, businesses, and amateur creators can learn to use these tools to make their lives easier or open up new creative avenues. By embracing AI, skeptics can help to ensure that the technology is used for good, rather than leaving it to be shaped by ill-intentioned parties.
However, Herndon's usage of AI also raises questions about the future of art. If AI can replicate a unique voice like Herndon's, or mine the vast archive of existing human-produced content, then will it eventually replace humans' role in making that art going forward? And who owns the art that an AI model produces? Herndon believes that blockchain technology can help solve these issues. The Holly+ project is controlled by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which allows artists to sell digital works and ensure they will always receive credit for creating them, while giving the works' buyers confidence that they can prove they have the original version.
As technology continues to evolve, artists and creators must keep adapting. Herndon's work shows how creative people can approach developments like AI with an open mind, while maintaining a pragmatic awareness of the technology's drawbacks. While artists are among the first to seriously grapple with the implications of AI's cutting edge, the technology is likely to affect everyone, whether in their work or in another area of their lives. Holly+ and the Spawning organization both offer models for embracing technological change and making the most of it, rather than trying to resist or avoid it. Herndon, committed to creating ways to steer things in a better direction, is taking the lessons from Holly+ to her new organization, Spawning, which aims to help others take that leap and make their own decisions about how their voices and styles are used.