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Google Launches YouTube Music Service With Creepy AI To Predict Listening Habits (audioholics.com) 87

Audiofan writes: Will the new YouTube Music streaming service provide the soundtrack to your life? Google believes that its ability to harness the power of artificial intelligence will help the new service catch up to its rivals in the music streaming business. Google's latest attempt to compete with Spotify and Apple Music may finally have what it takes if it doesn't creep users out in the process. While the service officially rolls out on Tuesday, May 22nd, only some users will be able to use it at launch. What separates YouTube's music streaming service from the competition is its catalog of remixes, live versions, and covers of official versions of songs. It also uses the Google Assistant to make music recommendations based on everything it knows (and can learn) about you and your listening habits. "When you arrive at the gym, for example, YouTube Music will offer up a playlist of hard-hitting pump-up jams (if that's your thing)," reports Audioholics. "Late at night, softer tunes will set a more relaxing mood."

YouTube Music is free with ads, but will cost $9.99 for ad-free listening. There is also YouTube Premium, which will cost $11.99 per month, and will include both the ad-free music service and the exclusive video content from the now-defunct YouTube Red.
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Google Launches YouTube Music Service With Creepy AI To Predict Listening Habits

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would appreciate porn content and genre tailored to my location and time of day.
  • Not creepy at all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me@@@brandywinehundred...org> on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @08:54PM (#56656472) Journal

    Google Play Music already does this, and it's great (time, location, past activity for time and location), the addition of covers and live bringing it to YouTube sounds excellent. The last YouTube music wasn't so good, barely (if at all) better than using plain old YouTube to find things.

    It was how they integrated the curated playlists from the company they purchased before launching Play Music. At work, suggests playlists designed for focusing (no lyrics) or with radio edits for example.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's only great for people with limited tastes in music. I don't have music listening habits, because what I listen to is utterly unpredictable and changes from moment to moment (you should see my manually crafted playlists). That's just one of the reasons why I don't use music streaming services.

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        I've found it to give me a wide variety of options (probably not as broad as your lists, but across many genres of things that I like (a few types of "alternative", a few rock, a few hip hop, a few EDM, and some classical, I almost always like the lists, and often discover something new)).

        It's I feel lucky button does a really good job of making a coherent list I want, unlike when I had Spotify and it was always very similar.

        Maybe not for you, but it certainly does a decent job of broad taste.

        I really like

      • I'm listening to a lot of music genre and Google Play Music never let me down. I can switch from one style to another, I can like or dislike songs in any genre and the service always understand my taste. I never felt prisoner of the service.
      • No. it's pretty great all around. mine feeds me weird german synth and post modern folk, because it knows i like that style of music. it often drops new music in, and also makes pruning easy.

        • Least yours feeds you music you like. I'll have 90% metal songs, suddenly YouTube will throw on my feed the latest pop singers song and hilariously link it to "because you liked Slayer with the song about death and destruction" you'll like Taylor Swift
    • Being as you're obviously a well-tended Google product, can you tell us if it correlates music to what kind of porn you're jerking off to, as well? I'm completely serious.
  • Here's the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter P Peters ( 5350981 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @08:54PM (#56656474)
    The biggest flaw with the Internet is the Echo Chamber effect and Google and Facebooks algorithm's are just feeding that beast.
    I want an Internet where I'm exposed to new and different ideas, not wrap me up in a comfort blanket of things I already know.
    The echo chamber effect is the biggest threat to democracy and Google/Facebook are leading the charge.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I wonder how the AI will handle non-mainstream music videos like this one?
      Trump sings Just the Two of Us [youtube.com]

    • That is one of my problems with Pandora. When I'm sitting coding I do like having something familiar for background noise, but the rest of the time I would really like a bit more variety than is provided.

    • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @09:32PM (#56656614)

      The biggest flaw with the Internet is the Echo Chamber effect and Google and Facebooks algorithm's are just feeding that beast.

      I want an Internet where I'm exposed to new and different ideas, not wrap me up in a comfort blanket of things I already know.

      Exactly right.

      Every so often I pick up something random and say "Hmmm . . . this looks weird and interesting, I'll give it a try".

      A lot of it sucks and turns out to be crap. But almost all of my favorite books, movies and music were found that way.

    • So you think it's impossible for a machine learning algorithm to learn that novelty is something you like.

      It's plain that most of you never tried Spotify's recommendation playlists. They're considerably better than Google Play's or last.fm's. You get exposed to way more original music than you would ever get through the usual channels (radio, friends).

      It's probably similar with the "threat to democracy" filtering. You probably didn't get all that many new and different ideas from traditional media.

      • So you think it's impossible for a machine learning algorithm to learn that novelty is something you like.

        Not impossible, but not happening right now.

        It's probably similar with the "threat to democracy" filtering. You probably didn't get all that many new and different ideas from traditional media.

        Traditional media had standards that doesn't exist on the Internet. The threat is already here, More than half the population [fortune.com] are getting their news form Social Media. The current leader of the free world is a product of the this Echo Chamber effect and the peace we enjoy is currently under threat because of it.

      • So you think it's impossible for a machine learning algorithm to learn that novelty is something you like.

        Impossible ? No it isn't.

        Will it do it ? Actually not, it wont.
        The machine learning written by Google tend to optimize mostly for "whatever makes the viewer stay longer so we can throw more ads at them" (well, except for the paid version of the service)
        And due to how human psyche works, the things which are most likely to end up on the learned list of "best things to show after this video" are going to be mostly more extreme/more stupid/more click baity crap.

    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:24AM (#56658708) Homepage

      The purpose of the AI is *not* to serve you.
      The purpose of the AI is to serve *Google's* interest, and Google earn money by selling your eyeballs to advertisers (with the exception of a couple of paid service like the non-free Youtube Music and Youtube Premium), which means the AI optimizes for one single thing :
      - make you stay as much as possible on youtube (thus prolonging your exposure to lucrative ads).

      And as has been already demonstrated with old media (studied with TV), what works best on most people is :
      - showing increasingly more extreme content
      - trying to appeal emotion
      - even better if that emotion is fear (increases even more ads success).

      By having the AI automatically trying to learn "Which video should I auto-play next, so that the user stays longer", the old media research tells us that the AI will eventually end up favoring those videos, which happens to be more biased fear-mongering and will considers less other video which happen to be the "different ideas" you're longing for.
      Wraping viewer in a comfort blanket will unknowingly be what happens, because research has shown that this is what works best for what the algorithm has been written to optimise for (increasing viewer retension and increasing revenue stream).

      The echo chamber effect is an unintended consequence of how human psyche works and what corporations like Google and FB are optimizing for.

      For the first time, paid service (like todays' Youtube Music / Youtube Premium) Google is having a platform where they don't need to actually maintain viewer retention, only need to optimize for people keeping their subscription.
      (e.g.: if Google releases one cool movie per month as exclusive on youtube, and users end up thinking that this monthly so cool that it is totally worth paying the fee, we'll end up a situation where the platform doesn't need to optimize for minutes spent, only for quality making people keep their subscription.
      That still doesn't fix people's biased interests, but reduces the "whatever crap makes them stay" current bubble making click bait)

      • The purpose of the AI is to serve *Google's* interest, and Google earn money by selling your eyeballs to advertisers (with the exception of a couple of paid service like the non-free Youtube Music and Youtube Premium), which means the AI optimizes for one single thing :
        - make you stay as much as possible on youtube (thus prolonging your exposure to lucrative ads).

        You do realize that the purpose of the subscription is to get ad free access?

        • Google earn money by selling your eyeballs to advertisers (with the exception of a couple of paid service like the non-free Youtube Music and Youtube Premium)

          You do realize that the purpose of the subscription is to get ad free access?

          You realize that even TFS mentioned in the last paragraph that the services are available both as a free ads-ridden services (the free Youtube Music, and of course classic Youtube) and as subscription services with a monthly fee (Youtube Music and Youtube Premium, resp) ?

          (You realize also that I explicitly mentioned paying service in the part that you blockquoted ?)

          Also, as I mentioned at the end of my post, the specific case of user who pay for a subscription might be the first occasion where the algorithm

          • Okay, but I missed out your first line:

            The purpose of the AI is *not* to serve you.

            AI has a great many purposes. I'd argue that many of those Google implement it for are indeed to serve the customer. When I look at my phone in the morning, it telling me my commute to work is backed up and here's an alternate route isn't serving Google or showing me more ads. It's making my phone more useful which might make me stick with Android when I next upgrade.

            Recognizing that I'm at work and might want to listen to in

    • The biggest flaw with the Internet is the Echo Chamber effect and Google and Facebooks algorithm's are just feeding that beast. I want an Internet where I'm exposed to new and different ideas, not wrap me up in a comfort blanket of things I already know.

      I agree, and best of all we already have that internet now. The trick is not to rely on algorithms to make suggestions, but to do research yourself and make your own choices. I read up a little about a given musical genre or period and then start listening to it. I use that listening experience to decide where I go next. Rinse & repeat. In this manner I'm not a passive consumer of whatever an algorithm thinks I like. Inevitably I end up exposed to a wide range of stuff and even end up listening to a goo

      • I agree, and best of all we already have that internet now. The trick is not to rely on algorithms to make suggestions, but to do research yourself and make your own choices.

        The problem is that it gets harder and harder everyday. I quit social media, run ad blockers, script blockers etc try to stick to reputable sources, but even they are getting polluted. How many sites now include news that has what someone on twitter thought? Youtube which I use for instructional and informative videos still throws tonnes of like suggestions at me they drown out the variety. I'm down to about 3 or 4 regular sites as the noise is just too strong.

  • "AI" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @09:07PM (#56656522) Homepage Journal
    ""When you arrive at the gym, for example, YouTube Music will offer up a playlist of hard-hitting pump-up jams (if that's your thing)," reports Audioholics. "Late at night, softer tunes will set a more relaxing mood."

    No it won't. Companies always claim things like this but it never happens. They can't even deliver relevant advertising.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sure they can. You just signed up for a gym membership, so there's 5 other gyms in your area you may be interested in. Highly effective advertising!

      However I'd prefer it if everything was tagged based instead of AI based. I'd much rather type in the "pumped-up" tag to get a list of such music rather than wait for them to data mine my habits and hope they get it correct. I don't always want softer tunes at night. Will I need to submit my lesson plans so they can figure out when I'm cramming for a test?

    • To be fair, they do deliver your data to third parties efficiently.

    • No it won't. Companies always claim things like this but it never happens. They can't even deliver relevant advertising.

      There's no way they won't let marketing $ dominate the decision process to the point where the AI is basically useless. Every one of these services keeps trying to force-feed me popular crap that I keep disliking (where possible), and cannot be trained off of it. Even the AIs I wrote for undergrad projects 20 years ago worked better than that (or I'd have flunked). There's no way this is

    • Based on how bad Google News is at recommending stories for me, they don't seem to have much idea what I like. You'd think that would be easy. I've been reading Google News for years so they ought to know what stories I click on. But they still keep recommending things I'm totally not interested in. I'd say their hype is way ahead of reality.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Advertising? It can not even deliver relevant content. With YouTube I started a test for one month where I am logged in. I am subscribed to around 200 channels and now when it suggests channels I will get 95% the channels I already look at and the other 5% are clearly sponsored or things that would get a lot of sponsors and in no way interesting for me.

      So it will be: Hey you listen to rock band Whatever, so here is every number they ever played in every version. Oh and as a variety, here is the latest pop-p

  • I used to listen to music radio stations when cycling or rollerblading on my old phone but my current one does not have FM receiver.
    What would be a good app and a good music streaming service that will allow me to pick a "channel" with a type of music I'm in a mood for and listen to it?
    Elements to consider are subscription price (preferably none), ads (ditto), selection size, variety and ease of hands-free operation.

    Thanks.

    • Well, I mean you're not going to get "NO" subscription fee AND no ads.

      That said, even ad-supported streaming services appear to have less annoying and LOUD ads than FM radio these days. I stopped listening to FM about a decade ago. ClearChannel owns most stations, and they make damned sure that every channel is running the same ads at the same time so that you can't switch away (Why the fuck do I need to hear a car ad when I'm in my car?)

      I load up my own music on the phone for the most part, but as I have t

    • Google Play Music, now known as YouTube Music :

      Pick an Album, Song or Artist, and choose "Play Radio",
      A perpetual queue will be generated based on that selection.
      The queue can be saved as a playlist. Playlists can be downloaded to your device.

  • It's not AI (Score:3, Informative)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @12:58AM (#56657158)
    It's not AI. It a fucking database. [type of person] with [interests] and [characteristics] tend to like music by [musician].
    • [type of person] with [interests] and [characteristics] tend to like music by [musician].

      Actually not how it has been done for quite some time.

      Much more like "people who have played video A, B and C, are more likely to stay playing video D" and some similar kind of chain modelling. So more machine learning than database.

      (And then, due to how human psyche works, D is most likely to be "more crap/worse click bait".
      You begin listening to some random music on the free ads-sponsored Youtube Music and somehow a few hours in you end-up listening to audiobooks of conspiracy theories while your eyes hav

  • by Askmum ( 1038780 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @01:54AM (#56657268)
    If it is anything like their algorithm on youtube it is not going to work. "Oh, you've wachted one cute cat movie? Let's spam you with cute cat movies because that's the only thing you're interested in".
    Nope.
  • I would be for this if there weren't better options that are not available to me because of the shitty music industry. I want to use Pandora because it already does tailor made playlists that use much better algorithms and show me new music. But the music industry has no interest in letting customers find lesser known bands and no interest in letting people listen to what they want to. Instead the music industry is entirely invested in a few brands they want to sell and they will MAKE you like them. Thi
  • Is not so much that they create profiles about you, it's that a larger market of databrokers is getting ahold of that data too. They when start using that data as a proxy for more salient things their clients would like to know about you.

    For example, in the short term the music you select says a lot about your mood. In the long term this helps to update a score about your mental stability and health. And those scores, along with others, then influences your employability score.

    Spotify has been sharing
  • I'm a technical, educated user. In general, I know how things work.

    But I'm more than a little confused about the services Youtube is offering in particular.
    You've got Youtube Red, Youtube TV, Youtube Premium, and now... youtube music?

    Am I crazy?

  • I like to be introduced to new music, or genres of music. I used to subscribe to Pandora but canceled a few years ago. I'd read the local "bands playing this weekend" and look them up on Pandora.

    What I liked was typing in a musicians name and hearing one track from them - and then "like" tracks from other bands so I get the basic vibe. Then I could decide "I like that" and buy tickets.

    But the big failing --- if I wanted to know what "smooth jazz" was, there wasn't a way to type in a (foreign to me) genre

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.

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