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Musicians Ask Spotify To Kill Controversial New Voice Recognition Software

In late February, Spotify patented new voice recognition technology that can detect the emotional state, age, gender, accent, and surrounding environment of a person, and use this to recommend music to them.

Naturally, such creepy and invasive technology was slammed by many, including digital rights non-profit Access Now, who have penned an open letter asking Spotify not to implement this technology in their service for fear of discrimination and privacy issues.

The letter was signed by notable musicians such as Tom Morello, Laura Jane Grace, Kimya Dawson, and Talib Kweli, and dozens of activism organisations.

“Monitoring emotional state, and making recommendations based on it, puts the entity that deploys the tech in a dangerous position of power in relation to a user,” the letter states, adding: “It is impossible to infer gender without discriminating against trans and non-binary people, and others who do not fit gender stereotypes.

“It is also impossible to infer someone’s music taste based on accent, without assuming there’s a ‘normal’ way of speaking or falling into racist stereotypes.”

Spotify replied to an initial letter sent by Access Now a few weeks back.

“Spotify has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no plans to do so,” Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs, wrote.

“The decision to patent an invention does not always reflect the company’s intent to implement the invention in a product, but is instead influenced by a number of other considerations, including our responsibilities to our users and to society at large.”

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