The Real Threat of AI & Subscriptions

After hearing the cries of many all over the world time and time again about layoffs, not being able to sustain a profitable business it is my conclusion that in order to save the world and end poverty in the entertainment industry we have to keep artificial intelligence under control and eliminate subscription-based services.

Artificial intelligence has been very useful for many businesses as it has allowed them to downsize and let go of workers but in the backlash it has also caused the landscape to become more volatile, with less feeling, less emotion which then in turn leads to costumers that supported that business, leaving. This in turn puts that business in a more precarious position. As companies continue to embrace AI, they continue to shed workers, which leads to less people having jobs, and getting payed and unable to sustain themselves. 

In one breath within the last year we have seen many companies lay off workers due to their business becoming less profitable. The main reason that many of these business are in this predicament is due to AI taking over. Businesses have been aggressively shedding humans and replacing them with AI. Most companies do not even have a human available to talk to when you call their customer service. That is just sad and unacceptable.

As more and more costumers gravitate towards online shopping and purchases, many retailers have had to file for bankruptcy, due to no more foot traffic in their stores. The lack of human feeling is becoming an epidemic. Due to less interaction, humans have become more selfish, narcissistic and less concerned about the emotions of others. This callousness puts our world in great danger and on the brink of collapse. The new generation growing up are almost as robotic as the machines themselves and many lack the human ability to do anything our make any decisions without first consulting their devices. AI is promising to replace bus drivers and taxi drivers with full autonomy. AI is promising write scripts and even write songs. What next? While AI is very useful in moderation, we cannot allow it take over our universe. Imagine a world with no more stores, no humans, no interaction. Imagine not being able to purchase food at the supermarket, or purchase medicine at the pharmacy but only having the option of purchasing online. That would be a very sad world. Not having the ability to go out and purchase your food would be very sad and could lead to other problems as well, Like corruption in the supply chain, whereby food coming to you could be compromised if you are a celebrity or another high profile figure. If we allow AI to take over that is exactly the direction that we are heading.

In the essence of the entertainment industry we have the issue of subscription-based services ruining the music and film industry. Reading articles such as this one only reinforces that fact. We need to find a way to re-introduce physical media to customers. Music and film are art forms and artwork has value. We cannot stand by and allow one of the most important industries become devalued in such a manner. Everyone consumes music, movies and tv shows. There is no reason why the entertainment industry should be suffering.

We need to bring back value to the industry and the only way to do that is to get rid of streaming and subscription-based services and replace them with physical media and the ability to purchase. After CDs, iTunes has brought the ability to purchase music online to the Masses. This has been a great achievement and is to be commended. Apple also created iTunes LP to recreate the interactive experience of reading through liner notes that accompany our CDs. As of late all of this has taken a back seat in favor of streaming services. The entertainment industry has been pushing to eliminate ownership. Imagine not being able to purchase music anymore, whereby all the music you have can just be taken away from you like that. No thanks.

We must not take the ability to purchase music for granted. We must not take CDs for granted. We must take the iTunes Music Store for granted. We must not take the ability to purchase DVDs or purchase movies and tv shows from the iTunes Store. As both the tech and music industry has been pushing to eliminate ownership, we have to take a stand and ensure that our rights and abilities are not extinguished. We have to ensure that we, the customers who are the ones who hold the POWER, are not taken advantage of. The pioneer of information technology: Steve Jobs, always believed in ownership and had always fought against subscription-based platforms. While under his leadership, Apple provided the ability to purchase music, then movies and tv shows from the iTunes Store. Subscriptions never existed until several years after his passing. Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple still provides the option to own music, movies and tv shows via the iTunes Store and software via the App Store till this very day but with the recent introduction of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro on iPad, that future is becoming uncertain (More on that later)…

On the topic of film, most studios block access to content when not in the US, using licensing as their excuse. This has been the case for several years, I have not seen anything being done about it. Most streaming platforms implement geo-blocking AI to prevent countries outside of the US from consuming the content. Some services go as far as to blacklist VPN users to ensure the content cannot be viewed. This harms the film industry more than it protects it and leads to more piracy. Every film that is geo-blocked can be obtained in Full HD on torrent websites. These files contain no DRM or restrictions and pirates can do whatever they want with the files obtained, including burning them to a DVD or BluRay. Do we remember the time when Sony released Switchfoot’s “Nothing Is Sound” album with AI in the form of DRM (Digital Rights Management) that prevented customers from copying the CD to their hard disk. Yea that did not pan out well. By trying to control everything and everyone, they instead lost control of everything and everyone, further reinforcing the fact that the customer is the one with all of the POWER.

On the topic of Dolby Atmos, I have seen many streaming services promoting Dolby Atmos as the future of audio that wont’t go away. I beg to differ on that front. The first roadblock for Dolby Atmos is its insane requirements like having a 7.1.2 speaker system in order to mix in this format. Speakers cost money, audio interfaces with that many outputs do not come cheap and are not easily accessible. On the computer side of things: more simultaneous channels streaming audio at the same time requires more CPU power and more storage. Where as we currently stream in stereo with 2 channels of audio per track in our projects, we would be streaming up to 4x that. After trying out Dolby Atmos for myself, I can confidently say that when it comes to music production, it does not really impress me and seems more like another money and power grab for the entertainment industry to exert more POWER against independent artists and producers, an aim to make it more difficult for them to create. In essence, the aim would be to get everyone in the music industry to start requiring all content to be delivered in Dolby Atmos. Independent producers and engineers (who do not work for the major labels) will feel that they need a lot more in order to compete. These are artificial obstacles that do not exist and will never exist. Regardless of who says what, I can confidently say that while Dolby Atmos is great in film production I do not see much importance for it in the music realm and that is my opinion.

Deception is not the way for any industry to get more money. The only way to do that is by putting an end to streaming and subscription-based services in this realm. We need to bring back physical media, bring back value to our art. Secure legal downloads and ensure that they do not go away in favor of streaming. We also need to put new legislative in-place to block websites that indulge in piracy and illegal downloads. While writing this article I was made aware of the several companies who are taking away our rights to ownership. This goes for music, film, and software. Adobe removed the option to own a perpetual license of Photoshop along with their entire suite of products. Avid has eliminated the option to own a perpetual license of Pro Tools and Avid’s other suite of products. Waves tried to do the same last month but because we the customers spoke up, They brought back the ability purchase perpetual licenses for their products. Now Apple has released Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for iPad. While I am enthusiastic about these two world class pieces of software now being available on this platform, I am 100% against the fact that they are subscription only. Taking this into consideration, I fear that Apple may try to take away our ability to own a perpetual license for future versions of these software titles on the Mac. If that is the case then I’d have to seek alternatives. When a software developer creates and releases a piece of software that is final and the customer should always be provided with the option of purchasing a perpetual license for that software title. Just like hardware that software title has been released and is final. It is not an ongoing service, like utilities.

What’s next? Are companies going to try to turn Operating Systems in to subscriptions? Are we going to subscribe to use our computers and phones that we have already paid a lot of money for? I don’t think so. We might as well be living under a communist regime. If we do not take a stand we this is where everything is heading. When a company updates software with new features then they have all right to charge for the new version when they release it. In the essence of software, the option for perpetual licenses must never be taken away, otherwise the value of the product diminishes.

Whenever I see an artist release an album that I love, it has always been a fulfilling experience to purchase their CD and read the liner notes in the accompanied booklet while listening to their CD. Nothing in the digital realm can replace that feeling. Since the introduction of computer-based media, I still buy CDs and rip them in lossless format to my iTunes library, and sync them to my iPhone. So in this scenario we have the best of all worlds: the original physical medium from which the music is obtained and the convenience of having our music library available on our computer and phone. In the perspective of the artist, when customers sign up for streaming services the artist receives little to no money from streams, however when an album is purchased, revenue is generated. By purchasing the music on a physical medium we receive a physical piece of artwork, and the artist gets compensated for it. When we purchase the album on CD or from iTunes, we are supporting the artist who created this work of art.

AI is the reason why social media is almost extinct. Due to social media companies wanting total control over the information we consume, the implemented algorithms which decide what we can and cannot see. Hiding status updates from friends or people you follow and instead showing us information we do not have any interest in, labeling these supposed people as “influencers”. These “influencers” are then used like puppets, adhering to what the algorithm dictates, creating content that it will find favorable. This content is then sent to the top of your feed even regardless of your interest. That post of your friends wedding never makes it to your timeline. No-one sees that photo you posted 1 minute ago, regardless of your hashtags because the algorithm instead prioritizes a static post that was made 3 years ago.

In the essence of the retailer industry which includes stores that sell apparel, perfume, furniture etc. We are going to have to put legislation in place in order to secure physical businesses. As time goes on the more I see people becoming more and more segregated and reclusive, hiding out in their houses, buying items online, buying food online, working from home online. If we are going to put an end to poverty (that technology has help create) then we are going to have to put it back under control. We have to ensure that technology is working for us, not sabotaging our livelihoods. The only way we can do that on a massive front is by implementing new legislatives. For example many telecoms have replaced real customer services represent ivies with AI. Customers hate this, Nobody likes that, it benefits no-one and causes more frustration than anything else. Legislative could be put in place to ensure that companies are required to provide human-based customer service. This would ensure job security in that industry.

After reading this article I hope that collectively you can see the benefits and negatives can clearly be seen in regards to AI. This article in no way discounts the relevance of AI. AI has been, and continues to be very useful in our day-to-day lives but we cannot allow it to ruin our lives and our economy. We must remain in control of it and let it work for us, not the other way around. We can embrace certain elements of it but at the same time, maintain a level of distance from it. We have to take a stand and help create the future that we want to see.