Author Tom Bradwell
On January 12th Spotify was granted a patent that described “methods, systems and computer program products for processing audio signals to determine taste attributes.” It continues: “Environmental metadata is retrieved… based on the background noise which might correspond to any noises in the audio signal that are not the primary speaker’s voice. This may include ambient environmental sounds or other people’s speech.”
In other words, the Faustian bargain they’re offering is thus: Our updated software will gather more data to generate recommendations for your music playlist, all we ask in return is permission to listen through your smartphones mic, running in the background. The patent makes it clear that in addition to processing the content of your speech, the software will be evaluating what kind of environment and social setting you are in.
Whether this patent is incorporated into Spotify’s software remains to be seen but it’s not hard to imagine applications similar to those of other large technology companies in which our data is ‘monetised’ for advertising purposes.
Worse still, if somebody else in your nearby vicinity may be running this application on their phone and allowing Spotify to snoop through the microphone, might we be recorded without being aware this is the case. At this point I must ask in what way has my privacy been invaded? I would never knowingly consent to this company recording audio data from my conversations.
To give you an indication of the potential impact this kind of snooping technology might have on our lives. Last September, Spotify was engaged in a censorship furore after purchasing the exclusive publishing rights to one of the internet’s most popular podcasts – The Joe Rogan experience. Unfortunately a number of ‘woke’ employees disagreed with the content material (largely those in which Joe Rogan interviewees challenged the dogma of transgender activism).
They were threatening to strike and demanding the ability to directly edit or remove sections of upcoming interviews, block the uploading of episodes deemed problematic, add trigger warnings, corrections and reference ‘fact checked’ articles relating to topics discussed by Rogan.
This is one of many recent examples in which major corporations or employees thereof, attempt to exert control over what may be published. Their methods are often more covert than the widely publicised examples of de-platforming, censorship and attempts to spin narrative to their advantage. In handing control of the playlist to Spotify, we might be allowing some woke apparatchik, working behind the scenes to create blacklists of music they’d rather we didn’t hear and redirect us to their algorithmically approved material.
I see no reason to trust a corporation like Spotify to edit playlists for me, doing so would be to abandon the cognitive process of choosing my own music and entrusting them with the responsibility of deciding what is appropriate.
Listening to music may often evoke cherished memories rooted in a specific time and place or experiences shared with our loved ones, it may provide us with insight into history or expose us to new ideas. Life would be very different if an algorithm chose the music for us.