- K-pop fans share their opinion on AI girl group Eternity
By Venessa Anthony
It’s 2022, and technology has come a long way. Many menial tasks now can be done entirely using technology, and it has come so far that even human-oriented work can now be done with the use of technology, like the K-pop girl group that debuted last year – Eternity.
The 11-member group is the first all-virtual deep-learning “real AI” girl group – which means there are no real members. This begs the question – have we taken it too far? Have robots and AI begun replacing humans and taking over their jobs? Will we soon live in a world manned by technology? These are some of the concerns K-pop fans raised when the concept of Eternity came up.
In March 2021, girl group Eternity made its debut with the song, ironically titled I’m Real. As is expected of K-pop groups, the song also had a colourful, high-production-value music video accompanying it. The group was launched under Pulse9 – an AI company, and AiA. Eternity wasn’t the first AI-powered girl group – before them was K/DA, a virtual girl group consisting of four female characters from the popular online game, League of Legends (LoL), which, when debuted, caused quite a stir, mostly positive.
The Morning Brunch reached out to a few local K-pop fans to find out what their thoughts were on this concept.
Sumaya Gunesekara wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this new development, but thinks it would bring more exposure to women and girl groups in general, aside from most attention typically being on boy groups. “This is a good way to balance the conversation – there are many talented girl groups out there that are highly underrated and overlooked. Perhaps when checking out Eternity, they could be steered in the direction of other real groups that deserve recognition,” she shared.
On the other hand, casual K-pop listener Akhila Gunesekara had very strong opposing feelings. “I am strongly against anything that uses AI to replace human talents, as they will end up replacing humans,” he told us. Gunesekara had previously expressed interest in K/DA, and when prompted about what the difference was, he explained that with K/DA, there are actual humans singing – they are just presented in the form of AI projections.
“K/DA is similar to Vtubers. Vtubers put a lot of work into a persona and identity and tend to be very creative, and K/DA works because a lot of the characters are preexisting,” he pointed out, adding, “Even then, I don’t like parts about K/DA, like the music has literally nothing to do with the lore/gameplay/characters, and makes no sense, I would also complain that it replaces the voice actors since their identity is moot.” In the case of Eternity, he is entirely against it as they are presented to be “real humans” but have computer generated bodies, actions, and voice, which replaces actual human talent.
Rushda Rafeek, a hardcore K-pop fan, pointed out that it is super unfair that such groups exist as if they were ever to apply for an award show, as the numbers and stats would show them applicable, the other groups would be forced to compete against computers. “This group runs with an algorithm – they are literally made to be perfect and flawless. They can never fall, or stumble a dance move, or sing lyrics wrong or be out of tune. K-pop groups dedicate their entire life to come close to this level of perfection, and it is so unfair that they could be made to compete,” she noted. Although no such thing has happened yet, the fear is very real – should AI groups become normalised, it’s only a matter of time before fans say they deserve a spot in competitions and award ceremonies as well. Rafeek noted that it is better to nip it in the bud before it happens.
While general consensus is that this is indeed an impressive feat of technology, they are not welcome in the K-pop world, where real humans have much skill to show. Perhaps AI technology needs to stray from attempts to replace human talent, to actual productive feats.