Last Updated: Sun Jun 25, 2023
This is not an official policy. Rather, it is a statement explaining FAWM’s perspective on AI technology in its platform, on AI-based tools for music creation, and expectations for how we think these could and should be used in the context of our songwriting challenges.
Founding fawmer Burr Settles is an AI researcher by profession, and until summer 2022 was research director and head of AI at Duolingo. So we at FAWM are quite excited about AI and its potential for making music! As far back as 2010, we even created The Muse as a (nascent) exploration into AI-based songwriting tools for the FAWM community. The chance to work on AI tools for human creativity and community were also a huge part of Burr’s decision to leave Duolingo and focus more or less full-time on FAWM for the time being.
There are currently no “AI” systems deployed in the fawm.org website (aside from the tools at muse.fawm.org). Even recommendations are currently generated using rudimentary heuristics.
However, over time we plan to integrate more AI-based personalization into your home feed, recommendations, lists/rankings, and so on. Unlike today’s social media platforms — whose “objective function” for training AI systems is to maximize your attention and time spent on the platform — FAWM is funded by your support (not ads or venture capitalists). So our systems will be trained to try and optimize your songwriting output, collaborations, and other goal-oriented and pro-social behaviors (see some of our previous research here and here).
If and when such AI systems are deployed at fawm.org, this document will be updated and we plan to publish model cards (think “nutrition labels” for AI) to be as fair and transparent as possible about how your data are used, and what role AI plays in your experience.
Our position is that AI-based music tools are exactly that: tools. As with pitch correction, drum plugins, rhyming dictionaries, samplers, or even a capo — there are varying opinions about whether using a particular tool is “cheating.” In principle, FAWM encourages you to use any tool at your disposal that helps you grow as a songwriter and a musician (including AI).
That said, FAWM explicitly discourages:
We also intend to develop new “computational creativity” tools, and expand offerings at muse.fawm.org, including offerings based on more modern AI than what is currently there. Our philosophy for these is to make interactive tools to help you initiate or develop your own musical and lyrical ideas, rather than “end-to-end” AI music creation systems.
During the February 2023 challenge, we saw a surprisingly visceral split within the FAWM community over the use of ChatGPT. The capabilities of publically-available AI-based products for generating lyrics, music, and even entire audio tracks will only continue to grow.
We ask anyone using AI-based tools to explain how you used them in your “liner notes” and perhaps use an appropriate hashtag. In fact, we encourage fawmers to discuss any and all tools (AI or otherwise) used in the liner notes, so that fellow fawmers can learn from your process!
There is a metaphysical line where, on the one side you use AI as a legitimate tool, and on the other side it is a crutch. FAWM cannot tell you where that line is, but we are asking fawmers to reflect on how they're engaging with such tools when participating in these challenges.
This is perhaps the murkiest and most controversial topic in generative AI and art right now. For a good primer, we recommend this testimony (given by one of Burr’s friends and colleagues) from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on AI and Intellectual Property.
In short: FAWM can and will remove any media that violates copyright per our existing copyright policy. Furthermore, we reserve the right to remove any content that appears to try and represent the likeness of another artist or copyrighted work/entity (e.g., “deep fakes”). While one can make the argument that such works are part of one’s own creative practice as a fawmer, there are also many other outlets on the Internet for such things.
So we ask that, for FAWM, you remain focused on original songs or compositions that are yours, and that you represent to be your own.
If you are concerned about your music or lyrics being scraped by bots to train their generative AI systems, we made two changes in Summer 2023:
noaidirective (more info here) to all pages of fawm.org, to tell such bots not to crawl or cache for training AI systems. Of course, these directives work on the honor system and those developing AI tools must voluntarily opt to follow protocol...