Audio interview with Drew Silverstein

Here is an audio interview with Drew Silverstein about Artificial Intelligence (AI).



What is AI? What is the Digital and/or Fourth Revolution about? What does AI mean for me, my future, my children’s future, the future of humanity? Should I be scared, worried, excited? Will I pee my pants a little?

Welcome to AI Fears. Join us as we explore the answers to these questions with interviews, panels and discussions. Development in AI are going to impact humanity. We think we all should be a part of it or, at the very least, understand what is going on.

Henrik de Gyor:  This is AI Fears. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with  Drew Silverstein.

Drew, how are you?

Drew Silverstein:   I’m doing well. Thanks for having me.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, who are you and what do you do?

Drew Silverstein:  As you mentioned, my name is Drew Silverstein. I am the CEO of Amper Music. Amper is an AI music composer, performer, and producer that creates unique professional music tailored to any content in a matter of seconds.

Originally, I started my career as a composes for film, TV and video games in Los Angeles and, through work with collaborators, partners, directors, editors, producers as well as fellow musicians, had an intense perspective on the role of technology and the evolution of technology in the creative space and had a very deep understanding of the use cases for technology such as Amper in the media space, and so, three years ago, with my two partners, Sam and Michael, started Amper with the goal of being intrinsically creative, enabling creative relationships between humans and machines and, ultimately, building what is today Amper with the perspective that, with the future of music being created through the collaboration between humans and AI, this collaborative experience would propel the creative process forward in an enhancing and additive way.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, do you think a robot will take your job?

Drew Silverstein:  I think a robot will change my job. I think, throughout history, we have seen technological evolution change the role of people in certain functions, but, oftentimes, not displace it. As it relates to music, and when I say “take my job,” I put myself in my musician and my artist’s shoes, I think there are two types of music especially in media, two types of media music, a functional music, which is valued for its use case, doesn’t necessarily value the collaboration and creation that goes into making that music; and artistic music that’s valued for that collaboration and creation of making the music, sitting together in a room with someone.

I firmly believe that, regardless of the potential of AI music, that we as a human culture will forever value the creation of art with each other and for each other, and the intrinsic gratification that comes from sitting in a room and making music with somebody else will never disappear regardless of what the output looks like and regardless of how that compares to something made by a robot, and so I think AI, creative AIs, especially like Amper, will change the future and will change the job of musicians and composers and creators, but certainly won’t take them and to go a level deeper.

Oftentimes, the problem in the creative space is not coming up with an idea, but expressing that idea. Many people are able to envision in their mind a great painting they’d like to create, and the trouble comes when they try to actually pick up a paintbrush and paint that. The lack of training, the lack of resources often makes that a challenging task. It’s the expression of that creative idea that access the bottleneck, if you will, in the creative process.

When we apply that to Amper, when we look at non-musical creators, especially content creators, Amper is a collaborative and creative tool that gives them the ability to express themselves through music where they, otherwise, might not have that opportunity; and/or artists, musicians and composers, Amper is a collaborative tool in their toolkit to help them be more creative, more productive, more efficient at what they already do to help further enable their existing and human creativity.

My job as a musician, as a composer will certainly change because of robots and AI. It will be different. Some parts of it may be familiar, some parts might not, but my job won’t go away.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, do we need ethics in AI?

Drew Silverstein:  Absolutely. I think we need ethics from a couple different perspectives. There are oftentimes two competing narratives around what AI means for humanity. One is that this will be an incredibly positive evolution in technology and one that serves humanity well, and there is an alternate narrative that views the development of AI as a doomsday scenario, as the end of everything we know.

It’s certainly possible to go down either of those two paths without any checks and balances, without any morality, any ethics, and I think it’s incredibly important that we as a human culture and as the technological leaders pushing the bounds of this space that we think through the benefits, the consequences, the potential of what we’re developing and we make sure to guide this evolution in a manner that is beneficial, enhancing and additive to the human race, and a core part of doing that is making sure that we agree on the foundational underpinnings of what is right and what is wrong, why are we doing this, and what is our goal.

Ethics play a major role in informing those pillars of the conversation.

Henrik de Gyor:  Based on media, books and movies regarding robots and Artificial Intelligence, what’s your favorite doomsday scenario?

Drew Silverstein:  My favorite doomsday scenario is one that I think resonates with a lot of individuals because of its popularity. It’s Terminator. It’s a depiction of what happens when robots and AI are so powerful and, in some cases, out of control that their potential to harm humanity is significant. While certainly portrayed in a very entertaining manner throughout the trilogy, I think it does a strong job of portraying a scenario that we as a human culture would do well to avoid.

Henrik de Gyor:  What is your favorite bright-future scenario?

Drew Silverstein:  When I think about my favorite bright-future scenario, I actually reference something that would technically be considered my favorite bright scenario from a time long, long ago. I think of Star Wars, where robots and, in a large sense, AI are such a key component of the narrative and are clearly in the service of human goals and human endeavors, and that collaboration between R2-D2, between C-3PO, between Luke Skywalker and every other potential example in the Star Wars universe I think is so powerful in its message, intentional or not, that when robots and AI and humans collaborate together, the potential for greatness, for human elevation is limitless.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, do you feel secure about your job today?

Drew Silverstein:  Again, I put myself in the shoes of a musician and a composes for this question. I feel secure about my job today specifically because, on the whole, AI music has not shown itself consistently able to compete with artistic music composers yet. Amper doesn’t make music as well as John Williams today. As a composer, that is … that certainly provides a level of job security.

Henrik de Gyor:  How about in two or five years?

Drew Silverstein:  I think two and five years is where the conversation changes, and, again, I don’t think it’s one about job security, but I think it’s one about job definition. At a certain point, Amper will create music indistinguishable of any human created music. Whether it’s two years, fives years or a hundred years, it’s inevitable, and that is the consequence of technological progress.

What is also I think persistent, what will be persistent in our human narrative is the value that we place on art and our artistic music, and so my job as a functional music composer at some point in the future, and whether it’s two years, five years or a hundred, is certainly one that I think will see a significant change.

Not to say that the job doesn’t exist, it will just be very different and very much guided by technology more so than it is today, but I think my job as an artistic composer, a creator of music that’s valued for its artistic contribution to the listener, to the creator, again, regardless of the comparison between that music and the music created by AI, artistic music and those create it I think will always have a place in our human society, and that’s in two years, it’s in a hundred years.

Henrik de Gyor:  Does your feeling about security of your job change in 10 to 20 years as well or are you keeping to the same 100-year scenario as well?

Drew Silverstein:  I mean, I think the reason I use a hundred years in this example is because I think most of individuals would agree that, in a hundred years, the AI music will have happened. It won’t be novel. It’ll be old hat. It will be as common to the individual as the internal combustion engine, as electricity.

I think, when we think in such abstract long-term time horizons, it’s relatively, especially when those time horizons are beyond when that affects us individually, it’s much easier to remove the emotion from the conversation and accept the progress of technology.

Now, whether that happens in a hundred years, 20 years, 10 years, five years, two years, six months, it’s impossible to know. We at Amper certainly think that it’s … this evolution, this new layer of human creativity or this new ability to express human creativity is coming very, very soon.

We have dedicated our careers to that endeavor, but the consequence, both positive and negative, of that evolution I think doesn’t necessarily change between now and a hundred years. What changes and what’s yet to be known is what that curve, what the slope of progress looks like and how dramatically things change.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, we’re living with the prediction that, in the next decade, 50% of jobs will be removed from the job market. How do you feel about this? Do you believe it’s true? Why or why not?

Drew Silverstein:  I think it has the potential to be true, but with a caveat. In the same way that I talk about functional music and artistic music, functional music being something that computers can and will soon be able to compete with and artistic music being something that they cannot, I think there are a significant number of human functions that can be more efficiently, economically, productively completed by machines and robots. In that sense, certain jobs that involve doing that specific function I think will be displaced.

At the same time, not only do I think that the displacement of those jobs in the implementation of technology in those spaces will open up new jobs in the market both in the same field or in others, but I think that, as we elevate ourselves from the need to complete lower level functions as a human society, historically, we have shown ourselves very well adapted to solving bigger problems.

There are fewer farmers today than years ago or a couple hundred years ago because we now have tools to help us farm, and that doesn’t mean that we cannot … that farming is … that no one farms anymore and that those jobs are gone, but it means that the people who do that job are much more productive and efficient in what they do, and others who might otherwise, or individuals who might, otherwise, have been farmers, now have the potential to do other things. Some of those things didn’t exist when technology first started affecting agriculture, and so it would have been hard to predict that when the plow was created that someone would later be a computer scientist.

I think jobs will certainly be dramatically different in the future, and, again, whether that’s in a decade or longer I think is certainly up for debate, but I would disagree vehemently with the prediction that 50% of jobs will be removed net from the gross from the job market. Gross, perhaps, but I think net, shockingly, disagree with that.

Henrik de Gyor:  Based on your experience, what are the biggest challenges and successes with AI?

Drew Silverstein:  AI often comes with lofty expectations, whether it be from people’s exposure to AI in entertainment and media or conceptualizations of what it means, and I think one of the biggest challenges is delivering a technology and products that not only are useful, but that live up to the expectation of the user, and where the success comes from is when that’s possible, when things that were previously thought impossible to do all of a sudden become possible. We see such dramatic impact of AI in a way that’s impossible to fathom before it becomes a reality.

Henrik de Gyor:  What are your hopes for Artificial Intelligence?

Drew Silverstein:  Again, restating a belief from earlier, I believe the future of… even the future of human will be created through the collaboration between AI and humans, that this collaboration will propel our human existence forward in an enhancing and additive way.

I hope that our work at Amper alongside all of our colleagues’ work around the world in the space also serves this goal, this perspective of collaboration between humans and machines so that we’re able to positively embrace the massive potential of the opportunity at our fingertips and reap the reward from that proactive mindset.

Henrik de Gyor:  When thinking of robots and AI, what are you excited or downright afraid of?

Drew Silverstein:  I’m excited about seeing what is possible and opening doors to new opportunities and new endeavors that previously wouldn’t even come across anyone’s mind as an idea. I think the potential for new is so great. It excites me.

Now, at the same time, I am cautiously afraid of the potential of bad actors to steer this evolution in a way that’s ultimately harmful to our human race, and that’s again why I think it’s so important that we rally around the same vision, the same goal and make sure that that vision becomes a reality.

Henrik de Gyor:  Drew, what advice do you give to those fearful of losing their jobs to an AI?

Drew Silverstein:  Don’t resist technological evolution. It’s inevitable, and it will happen. In a hundred years, it will have happened. Rather, figure out how to embrace change. Figure out how to lean in to the trends and to the progress of technology. Figure out how to use and utilize those technological advancements and adapt to the world of the future that will be, regardless of your personal preference.

If you are fully embracing, if you will fully embrace the … fully embrace change and get comfortable with the fact that not everything is a certainty, I think your personal potential will continue to rise regardless of the progress of AI.

Henrik de Gyor:  Thanks, Drew.

Drew Silverstein:  Henrik, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a delight speaking with you today and sharing our thoughts on how AI and how Amper are both positive forces in the evolution of our human society.

Henrik de Gyor:  For more on this, visit Thanks again.

Join us regularly. For topics and posts on the current state of AI.

Subscribe and participate in the discussion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.