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Google's Eric Schmidt Takes Potshot at Apple Music in Artificial Intelligence Op-Ed

AI makes music a "much less elitist taste-making process," according to the Alphabet chairman.


Eric Schmidt, the current chairman of Google and soon to be chairman of Alphabet, is very fond of artificial intelligence. This should not be a surprise. Google likes artificial intelligence and likes to be seen at its cutting edge.

Schmidt, as the frequent public face of the company before policymakers and regulators, has an interest in highlighting the positive, tangible applications of the technology — and dousing the concerns around it. He tries to do just that in an op-ed for the BBC over the weekend, claiming that the science is “just starting to see real progress.”

One of his examples, on the recent acceleration of “deep learning” AI techniques, should be familiar to Re/code readers. We offered a long look at the advanced software and its implications for companies like Google this summer.

Schmidt also offers another example of where AI research blends “with solving real-world challenges”: Music. And with it, he gives a subtle dig at Google’s chief mobile rival. Here’s Schmidt:

To give just one example: A decade ago, to launch a digital music service, you probably would have enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers to pick the hottest new music.

Today, you’re much better off building a smart system that can learn from the real world — what actual listeners are most likely to like next — and help you predict who and where the next Adele might be.

As a bonus, it’s a much less elitist taste-making process — much more democratic — allowing everyone to discover the next big star through our own collective tastes and not through the individual preferences of a select few.

Apple, which launched a digital music service this summer, did exactly this: Enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers, DJs that curate playlists for Beats 1 radio, to pick the hottest new music. Google, of course, has a competing musical service (multiple ones, in fact), which leans more on automation.

Schmidt left Apple’s board of directors in 2009.

This article originally appeared on

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