Stability AI exec steps down, citing concerns over generative AI ‘exploitation’

Stability AI exec steps down, citing concerns over generative AI ‘exploitation’

The debate over the use of copyrighted content for use in and training AI models is growing. Even within AI companies themselves, as shown by the resignation of a top executive at Stability AI.

According to Bloomberg, the use of copyrighted content for the training of AI models is increasingly under discussion.

This debate is also taking place within AI companies themselves. It recently even led to the resignation of an executive from AI start-up Stability AI. Ed Newton-Rex, the AI developer’s (now former) VP of Audio, decided to leave because he disagreed with the use of copyrighted material to train the start-up’s AI models.

In Newton-Rex’s view, it is not legal to develop AI models using copyrighted material, he stated at an AI conference. Generative AI models in particular use a lot of data, including music, lyrics and images to train themselves to answer user prompts.

Newton-Rex himself was responsible for developing the AI tool Stable Audio. Only music licensed by creators was used to train this model.

According to the former VP of Audio, however, this isn’t usually the case. Many companies often use artists’ copyrighted material without paying for it. Newton-Rex considers this a wrong practice morally because content created by AI models can compete commercially with the original works.

Other AI developers are also increasingly taking seriously the use of copyrighted material to train their models or the results users achieve with them. AI developers like OpenAI, as well as Google and Microsoft, take a different stance on this than Ed Newton-Rex. Instead, they reimbursed the legal costs of end users when accused of violating copyright rights.

Unrest at Stability AI

Stability AI is known for its AI tool Stable Diffusion. The company has suffered several lawsuits accusing it of not seeking permission before collecting content and using it to develop AI models. The AI start-up itself suggests that such data collection practices, however, fall under the “fair use” policy of copyright law in the United States.

As it happens, Ed Newton-Rex is not the first board member or executive to quit at Stability AI in recent times. Previously, the legal and HR directors left, as well as other executives. Rumors say that internally at the AI start-up it is chaos and that there are problems with investors.

Also read: Google to compensate its generative AI users for copyright claims