LONDON. — The Beatles have released their new and final song, ‘Now and Then’.

Artificial intelligence technology allowed for the sampling of a song written and recorded by John Lennon in 1978.

It is the last song featuring all four band members.

AI Distinguished Chair and ARC Future Fellow Professor Longbing Cao joined Sky News Australia to discuss the significance of this achievement and how future AI projects might compare.

“This is a very sweet and incredible AI gift for the Beatles band and also for the fans,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Paul McCartney was positive about the appearance this week of what has been trailed as the “last” Beatles song, Now and Then.

Much has been made of AI being part of the produ ction.

Machine learning was used to recognise John Lennon’s voice, and then isolate it from other sounds — a piano, a television in the background, electrical hum – to make it usable in a new recording. 

It also comes amid a slew of Beatles-related activity recently — a new podcast series, Peter Jackson’s epic 2021 documentary GetBack, new versions of the famed Red and Blue compilation albums, and a Paul McCartney tour, during which he is playing some of the Fab Four’s back catalogue.

The commercial juggernaut seems unstoppable, so it’s perhaps easy to be cynical about a “new” song from a band that broke up in 1970, two of whose members are dead. Certainly, Now and Then does raise questions about how technologically mediated releases relate to collective artistic output, and what it means to be a band.

In many ways, though, the AI label is a red herring, and this new song — which actually has its roots in a John Lennon demo tape from 1977 —demonstrates a continuing pattern. The Beatles and their narrative provided a seminal example of how bands work, and seemed to be ploughing the furrow for others.

From their original formation as schoolboys (Ringo joined in 1962 when they started recording), to their enormous financial success and cultural impact, the Beatles laid down templates that others have followed. Lennon and McCartney’s first meeting at a church fete in 1957 is now the stuff of legend. — BBC.

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