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Oscar-winning music composer A. R. Rahman defends ethical use of AI in recreating voices of late singers

A. R. Rahman, a prominent Oscar-winning music composer and widely acclaimed for his pioneering contributions to the music industry, has recently responded to concerns surrounding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in recreating the voices of late playback singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed. The controversy arose concerning the song ‘Thimiri Yezhuda’ featured in the film ‘Lal Salaam,’ starring Rajinikanth, where Rahman employed AI technology to recreate the vocal nuances of the deceased artists.

In response to queries and criticisms from followers on his social media platform, Rahman explained the ethical considerations involved in utilizing AI for such purposes. The celebrated composer shared a post by Sony Music South, the music label associated with the project, which exposed the use of an AI tool to reproduce the voices of Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed.

Rahman explained in his Twitter post, “We took permission from their families and sent deserving remuneration for using their voice algorithms…technology is not a threat and a nuisance if we use it right.” This statement highlights Rahman’s commitment to ensuring that the families of the late singers were consulted and compensated for applying their voice algorithms in AI-driven recreation.

Bamba Bakya, who worked extensively with Rahman on innumerable memorable tracks, passed away tragically in 2022 due to a cardiac arrest. Shahul Hameed, another playback singer who collaborated closely with Rahman, lost his life in a car crash near Chennai in 1997.

The use of AI in recreating the voices of deceased artists has received a mixed response on social media. While some users expressed support for the innovative approach, emphasizing its potential to preserve the essence of the artists, others criticized it as a disrespectful exploitation of technology.

Rahman aims to demonstrate that when used responsibly, technology can be a tool for artistic preservation rather than a threat to the industry’s vitality. The hashtags #respect and #nostalgia, utilized by Rahman, further convey his intention to honor the legacy of the late singers while embracing technological advancements that align with ethical standards.


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