We recently spoke with Jessica Powell, one of the latest judges to join the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). She’s the Co-Founder of AudioShake, an AI-based software that producers and musicians can use to strip a song down to its bare bones. Before that, she gained ample experience in communications at Google. In addition to being a tech and communications expert, she’s an accomplished and published writer. She’s written a book that made waves in The New York Times and The Guardian called The Big Disruption, a satire on the current state of Silicon Valley. Here’s what she had to say about responsible tech, how it can improve our world, and the tech innovations she’s keeping an eye on.
For those who don’t know, tell us a little about your background.
I’m Jessica Powell, and I’m the Co-founder of AudioShake, a start-up that uses AI to separate the full mix of a song into its instrumental and stems, so that artists and labels can open up their recordings to new creative uses and monetization. Prior to AudioShake, I was at Google for a long time, eventually running their communications organization and sitting on their management team. On the side, I also write fiction and essays, and my work has been published in The New York Times, VICE, TIME, and elsewhere.
What particular expertise are you bringing to the Academy?
I’ve had a long career in tech across marketing, product management, and communications, so I’d like to think that I have a good grasp of what makes a product compelling. But also, I have a lot of appreciation and empathy for artists–not just how difficult it is to make a career out of art, but also what courage it takes to put something out into the world for others to experience.
What emerging trend or technology are you most excited about in your industry?
The ability to interact with audio with the same ease and creativity that we can do today with image and video. We’re not there yet, but it’s coming soon.
Do you think technology as a whole should have a “responsibility” to be responsible?
Technology itself may be amoral, but the people who design it–as with any product or business–should think through the ethical implications of what they are building.
What do you believe is the most pressing issue that technology can help solve right now?
What does it take for technology to create real-world impact for social good?
There needs to be a connection between what is built and the real world. No one is served if we in tech just build the things that we think people need or want.