"The last thing I would want to be, in the world we live in, in 2023, is a robot."
It's been more than two years since be-helmeted French house outfit Daft Punk bid "adieu" to their decades-long collaboration — and in a new interview, one of the erstwhile duo revealed that artificial intelligence fears contributed to their split.
Speaking to BBC about the breakup, ex-Punk Thomas Bangalter noted that when they first burst onto the scene in the 1990s, the band he co-founded with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo was a "project that blurred the line between reality and fiction with these robot characters."
In the ensuing years, however, the blurring of the line between human and machine made the band's album and title track "Human After All" feel more like a rallying cry than a sci-fi-tinged house hit.
"It was an exploration, I would say, starting with the machines and going away from them," Bangalter said. "I love technology as a tool [but] I'm somehow terrified of the nature of the relationship between the machines and ourselves."
2001 More Time
Bangalter told BBC that, somewhat unsurprisingly, Stanley Kubrick's seminal "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of his favorite films because the director presented questions in 1968 that have become increasingly relevant in recent years.
Indeed, algorithmic sentience, a la the film's HAL 9000 AI, has become ever more concerning as we appear to, perhaps, approach it.
"He is asking exactly the question that we have to ask ourselves about technology and the obsolescence of man," the French artist said, adding with gravity noted by BBC's interviewer, that his "concerns about the rise of artificial intelligence go beyond its use in music creation."
While some people thought that Daft Punk's robot personas were part of an uncritically pro-technology stance, Bangalter said that he "almost consider[ed] the character of the robots like a Marina Abramović performance art installation that lasted for 20 years."
"We tried to use these machines to express something extremely moving that a machine cannot feel, but a human can," he continued. "We were always on the side of humanity and not on the side of technology."
Though it had been, at the time, nearly eight years since the band's last (and smash) album "Random Access Memories," Bangalter said that the timing of Daft Punk's 2021 breakup was intentional.
"As much as I love this character," he said, "the last thing I would want to be, in the world we live in, in 2023, is a robot."
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