Singaporean singer Stefanie Sun issues gloomy response to popularity of 'AI Stefanie Sun'


Singaporean singer Stefanie Sun is unhappy about her AI voice becoming more popular than her own. Photo: Stefanie Sun/Instagram

One of the hottest singers on Chinese video platform Bilibili right now is Stefanie Sun. Or is it?

The site has been flooded with covers of songs by various artificial intelligence (AI) versions of Sun, which replicate the 44-year-old Singaporean singer’s voice.

Some of the most-viewed videos of AI Sun are those of her covering the early hits of Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou such as Hair Like Snow (2005), which has 1.9 million views, as well as Love Before BC (2001), which has close to 1.4 million views.

There are even videos of the AI version covering late Japanese singer Koji Wada’s Butter-Fly (1999), the theme song from anime series Digimon Adventure (1999 to 2000).

Sun is not the only star to be digitally recreated. There are also AI versions of Mandopop diva Faye Wong and Singaporean singer JJ Lin.

Lawyers have raised copyright infringement concerns about such AI videos created and disseminated without the artistes’ permission.

According to Taiwanese media, Sun’s management label is not currently considering legal action due to the lack of regulation regarding AI.

After days of keeping quiet, Sun – who has not released an album since 2017 – issued a response lamenting her AI voice taking over her own, referencing a viral incident in 2021 when she was referred to as an “obscure singer” by a Chinese netizen.

In a post published on Monday (May 22) on her blog Make Music, she muses: “My fans have officially switched sides and accepted that I am indeed an ‘obscure singer’ while my AI persona is the current hot property. I mean really, how do you fight with someone who is putting out new albums in the time span of minutes?”

Raising the possibility of AI taking over human jobs, including her own, she adds: “Whether it is ChatGPT or AI or whatever name you want to call it, this ‘thing’ is now capable of mimicking and/or conjuring unique and complicated content by processing a gazillion chunks of information while piecing and putting (it) together in a most coherent manner.”

While fans may protest that AI Sun lacks the emotion of the real Sun and that they can tell the difference, Sun says: “I suspect that this would be a very short-term response.”

She acknowledges that she may be getting ahead of herself in terms of assuming what AI can do, but points out that it has the potential of creating catered content specific to everyone’s preferences.

“You are not special, you are already predictable, and also unfortunately malleable,” she says, somewhat gloomily.

While her blog post paints a dark future for artistes in the looming era of AI, Sun ends on an empowering note.

She writes: “In this boundless sea of existence, where anything is possible, where nothing matters, I think... that being exactly who you are will be enough.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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