A repository of conversations we’ve had with researchers and artists across the life of the project. These interview transcripts are produced using the Reduct transcription platform. The transcripts contain artefacts and politics of machinic listenings, such as the occasional Miss Herd word, and ah vocalised hesitations and filler sounds.

Bernard Mont-Reynaud

Bernard Mont-Reynaud is a computer scientist who worked on and around machine listening for more than 50 years before his retirement in 2023. After a PhD at Stanford in the 1970s, he moved to Berkeley, before returning to Stanford’s CCRMA to pursue work on source separation and music. After time at Sony, Audience and several other companies, Mont-Reynaud became Principal Scientist at SoundHound in 2010. We speak to him about his long career in machine listening, including his involvement with the histories of computer music and music intelligence, source separation, auditory scene analysis, and voice assistants.

Interview conducted in December 2022


Santiago Rentiera

We speak to Santiago about his amazing work on birdsong analysis, acoustic ecology and artificial intelligence, and especially his critical and artistic engagements with Australian magpie archives. Along the way, we discuss biosemiotics, Solomon’s Seal, and how, by starting with magpie calls, you can get to a strong critique of AGI.


Max Ritts

We talk with Max about the politics of ‘smart oceans governance’ and the growing application of machine listening to ‘conservation acoustics’. In the process, we also cover his amazing work on ‘military cetology’ and the social construction of whale song, among other things. All this is going to feature in Max’s forthcoming book A Resonant Ecology (Duke UP). If you like this conversation, you might also like Smart Forest Radio, a podcast Max has been involved with, which includes many episodes on digital bioacoustics.

Interview conducted on 7 July 2023


Beth Semel

We talk with Beth about her ethnographic work on computational psychiatry, vocal biomarkers, and the automation of care. This means following the AI hype machine into privatised healthcare and the politics of voice. Along the way, we talk about ‘heteromation’, ‘listening like a computer’, and the history of the DSM. We also get stuck into some amazing stories from beth’s fieldwork: including ‘MRI theatre’, the ‘humans in the machine’, and the strange continuities between the ‘grandfather passages’ used by linguists and dadaist poetry.

Interview conducted on 10 October 2022


Audrey Amsellem

Audrey talks to us about her work on sound, surveillance and ‘the making of the neoliberal ear’, Audrey’s term for the auditory dimensions of surveillance capitalism. We discuss the histories and politics of streaming platforms like Spotify, music analytics pioneer Echo Nest, Amazon Echo, and the Smart City communication hub LinkNYC.

Interview conducted on 6 October 2022


Guillaume Heuguet

Guillaume tells us about his new book How Music Changed YouTube (Bloomsbury 2024), and in particular the crucial role played by ‘audio fingerprinting’ in the operation of Content ID, YouTube’s system of automated copyright management. We talk about the ‘mathematics of originality’ and the automation of judgment, along with the political economy of music streaming. Audio fingerprinting, it turns out, is a technology about which the public knows very little, but with major significance for the culture industries.

Interview conducted on 8 September 2022, with Anabelle Lacroix


Dan McQuillan

Dan talks to us about his work on the automation of (mental) health care from voice analysis. Along the way, we also discuss algorithmic thoughtlessness, data luddism, the automation of care, people's councils for machine learning, and Dan's latest book on anti-fascist approaches to artificial intelligence.

Interview conducted on 22 August, 2022


Jonathan Sterne and Elena Razlogova

We talk with Jonathan and Elena about their collaborative work on AI and the automation of music mastering, with a particular focus on Montreal-based platform LANDR. But the conversation inevitably drifts towards much bigger questions on the politics of automation and machine listening.

Interview conducted on 12 August, 2022


Sara Ramshaw and Paul Stapleton

Sara and Paul talk to us about their work on improvisation as it connects with questions of justice, composition and performance. We range from George Lewis' early experiments with interactive music systems on Rainbow Family to family law in Northern Ireland, and what it might mean to 'humanise' algorithmic listening.

Interview conducted on 27 May, 2021


Liz Pelly

Liz talks to us about the cultural politics and political economy of Spotify. We talk through some of the ideas in her amazing column for The Baffler, along with some of the listening experiments she's conducted on Spotify's algorithms (and herself), before turning to her argument for ‘socialised streaming'.

Interview conducted on 23 March, 2021


Mara Mills, Xiaochang Li, Jessica Feldman, Michelle Pfeifer

Mara, Xiaochang, Jessica and Michelle talk us through the history and politics of machine listening, from 'affect recognition' and the 'statistical turn' in ASR to automated accent detection at the German border, voiceprints and the 'assistive pretext'. This is an expansive conversation with an amazing group of scholars, who share a common connection to the Media, Culture, and Communications department at NYU, founded by Neil Postman in 1971 at the urging of Marshall McLuhan.

Interview conducted on 19 February, 2020


Lauren Lee McCarthy

Lauren talks us through some of her many works concerned with smart speakers, machine listening and social relationships in the midst of surveillance, automation, and algorithmic living. We discuss: LAUREN, for which she attempted to become a human version of Alexa, SOMEONE, which won her the Prix Ars Electronica 2020 / Interactive Art +, and a range of related works and political questions.

Interview conducted on 22 September, 2020


Alex Ahmed

Alex talks to us about Project Spectra, an online, community-based, free and open source software application for transgender voice training. We discuss speech pathology and the politics of pitch, along with the importance of grass-roots led tech projects and community-centred design.

Interview conducted on 21 September, 2020


Stefan Maier

Stefan's 2018 dossier on machine listening for Technosphere puts the work of artists like George Lewis, Jennifer Walshe, Florian Hecker, and Maryanne Amacher into conversation with Google's wavenet. We talk about these and other works along with Stefan's own compositions which treat machine listening as a prepared instrument, ready to be detourned.

Interview conducted on 11 September, 2020


Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy

Yolande and Jenny provide a “reboot” manifesta in their book The Smart Wife: Why Siri, Alexa, and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist Reboot, which lays out their proposals for improving the design and social effects of digital voice assistants, social robots, sex robots, and other AI arriving in the home.

Interview conducted on 11 October, 2020


Jùnchéng Billy Lì

Billy tells us about his research on 'adversarial music', and in particular an attempt to produce a 'Real World Audio Adversary Against Wake-word Detection Systems' for Amazon Alexa.

Interview conducted on 11 September, 2020


André Dao

André talks to us about UN Global Pulse, the UN's big data initiative, and in particular one program which 'uses machine Learning to analyse radio content in Uganda'. We discuss the increasing entanglements of big tech, the UN and human rights discourse more broadly, as well as an emergent right to be counted.

Interview conducted on 4 September, 2020


Angie Abdilla

Angie talks to us about Old Ways, New, the Indigenous owned and led social enterprise she founded, based on Gadigal land in Redfern, Sydney. We discuss Decolonising the Digital, Country Centered Design, a methodology which applies Indigenous design principles to the development of technologies for places, spaces and experiences, and how this contrasts with the ‘placelessness’ on which so many machine learning/listening systems are based.

Interview conducted on 1 September, 2020


James Parker (w Jasmine Guffond)

This is the first of three radio shows as part of Jasmine's guest residency at Noods Radio. It features an interview with James about his research on machine listening, this curriculum, the project with Unsound, and a selection of electronic music.

Interview conducted on 1 September, 2020


Vladan Joler

Vladan walks us through Anatomy of an AI System, his 2018 work with Kate Crawford, which diagrams the Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources. We talk about the politics of visibility and method as well as Vladan's work with Share Lab, 'where indie data punk meets media theory pop to investigate digital rights blues'.

Interview conducted on 1 September, 2020


Halcyon Lawrence

Halcyon talks us through some of her work on the politics of voice user interfaces: in particular accent bias, 'Siri discipline' and the ways in which smart speakers reproduce and hardwire longstanding forms of linguistic imperialism.

Interview conducted on 31 August, 2020


Thomas Stachura

Thomas is CEO of Paranoid Inc, which makes devices that block smart speakers from listening. The company's mandate 'earn lots of money by increasing privacy, not eroding it' imagines an emerging privacy industry, as data mining and surveillance continues to become the dominant business model in silicon valley and elsewhere.

Interview conducted on 28 August, 2020


Mark Andrejevic

Mark's recent book Automated Media considers the politics of automation through the 'cascading logics' of pre-emption, operationalism, and 'framelessness'. We talk through some of these ideas, along with the limits of 'surveillance capitalism' as an analytic frame, 'touchlessness' in the time of Covid, 'operational listening', what automation is doing to subjectivity… and how all this relates to reality TV.

Interview conducted on 21 August, 2020


Shannon Mattern

Leading off from Shannon's essay "Urban Auscultation; or, Perceiving the Action of the Heart", which addresses machine listening in the pandemic, we talk about the stethoscope, the decibel and other histories of machine listening, along with its epistemic and political dimensions and artistic deployments.

Interview conducted on 18 August, 2020


Kathy Reid

Kathy talks to us about her work with MycroftMozilla Voice and now 3AI on open source voice assistants and the technics and politics of automatic speech recognition, along with a couple of utopian possibilities.

Interview conducted on 11 August, 2020