Recent years have seen escalating concern about the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI). While growing academic and policy literatures address the social and ethical implications of AI, as yet no major research initiative examines AI’s cultural implications. Music has long been a site of AI experimentation and commercial development in culture; yet although considerable research resources are going to scientific and artistic projects in this area, critical research on music AI – despite the urgent need for such work – is at an early stage. In this context, the MusAI project is groundbreaking in two ways. First, it takes music as the medium through which to create a field of critical interdisciplinary AI studies, indicative of AI’s wider influence on culture. Second, a guiding principle embodied in the project structure is that, to address the complex challenges posed by AI, radically new approaches are required that cut across entrenched disciplinary, methodological and epistemological divisions, as well as creating bridges between academia and industry. To these ends the project will: 1) build a knowledge base addressing core critical issues in music AI through a coordinated group of 12 studies designed to move beyond existing impasses between the AI sciences and critics; 2) enable music AI scientists and social scientists and humanists to engage in unprecedentedly rich and sustained interdisciplinary dialogues; and 3) through these engagements, develop new forms of interdisciplinarity for music AI and for the digital humanities, feeding the results into innovative interdisciplinary AI pedagogies. The project integrates 6 early career and 10 world-leading researchers with links to key institutions (BBC, Spotify, Anghami, Mila, Google Brain, Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics in AI). Based at Oxford, MusAI is led by an anthropologist expert in music technology and digital media studies, Chair of the British Academy’s Culture, Media and Performance Section.
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