Diversity and Inclusion
As Chorus Songwriting Assistant deals with language, it is important to us that we do our best when it comes to AI ethics around diversity and inclusion.
Music often deals with strong emotions around sensitive topics, such as sexuality, race, religion, and songwriters express these emotions in a variety of ways.
The Chorus Genius AI suggests lyrical phrases around a given topic, using an AI system that has been trained on content from the web, as well as specifically on song lyrics. This gives it the ability to write about all kinds of topics, and express itself in a way that fits the genre of music it is asked to write for.
As a result, it can sometimes produce opinionated results that you disagree with, in the same way that searching for a topic on Google can return pages containing opinions you disagree with.
We understand that Genius feels more personal than a Google search, however, and have made sure to test Genius with a wide variety of artists from varying backgrounds, across a many genres and speak to them directly about their experience.
This doesn't mean that Genius won't return opinions you disagree with, and we are always willing to listen to our users to try to improve.
When thinking about how to deal with inappropriate or offensive content, it's natural to think about how the content could be filtered.
We have tried implementing a "sensitive content" filter on the Genius results, but it had some negative repercussions.
When we tried the sensitive content filter on various musical genres, we found that it affected some genres far more than others. For instance, when we ran real rap lyrics from real artists through it, we found that it filtered out more than 70% of the lines given to it. When applied to singer-songwriter music, it filtered out about 25% of the lines.
This would render Genius essentially unusable for certain genres of music.
As a result, we have decided to use a filter which removes any terms considered to be slurs: be them racial, ethnic, religious, or otherwise. It's also possible that our filter could miss some terms, so we would welcome your feedback on any aspect of this, especially if a particular suggestion returned by Genius seems to have avoided this filter.
Gender and sexuality in lyrics
Much of popular music deals with love, romance and sexuality, and even songs that don't will often contain language which is considered to be 'gender coded'.
As Genius has been trained on a vast history of popular music, it will have picked up those biases, and will sometimes suggest gender coded lyrics and allude to heterosexual relationships.
We want Chorus to work for everybody, regardless of their current gender identity and sexuality.
We have thought long and hard about how to deal with the times when Genius suggests lyrics that don't fit with your identity, and have consulted experts in inclusive design, as well as speaking directly with a wide variety of songwriters.
We have tested several approaches to this, ranging from asking Genius to provide lyrics to try to match the user's identity, to rewriting each suggestion to use gender-neutral pronouns.
On balance, we feel that the best approach to this is to let Genius write lyrics that could speak to any gender identity or sexuality, and not try to filter or rewrite those lyrics.
What this means is that if you identify as a man, you will sometimes see lyrics written in the voice of a woman, for instance. We leave it up to the creativity of the songwriter to use those suggestions as they want to.
Ultimately, regardless of who you are or how you identify, Genius will suggest some lyrics that work for you and some that don't. We'd prefer that it has the chance of being right and wrong for everyone, rather than only ever being wrong for certain groups.
Getting in touch
We understand that our solutions to these problems are not perfect. We would like to make sure Chorus and Chorus Genius in particular work well for as many people and genres of music as possible, so if you have any questions, comments or suggestions on these issues, we'd love to hear from you.
Please get in contact by emailing tom (at) writewithchorus (dot) com
The Chorus Team