Robot Rock: Why A.I. Won’t Be Producing Our Music In The Future

Mark Wolf

Hi I’m Mark and I’m tryna write my wrongs but it’s funny those same wrongs help me write these posts.

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An Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution is brewing; the status quo is shifting and most of us don’t know where we’ll end up.

IBM’s chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, beat chess Grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, in a 1997 game of chess, and DeepMind’s go-playing computer, AlphaGo, beat 9 dan rank Go player, Lee Sedol, earlier this year. AI’s come a long way — especially since Go is 18 times more difficult than chess. The first player in Chess can choose from 20 possible moves, compared to 361 in Go.

These robotic wins were made possible by deep neural networks that can recognize a face after being fed millions of head shots, or make a calculated chess-move after being fed millions of chess-moves. So if all these robots need is a ton of examples, shouldn’t they eventually be able to write a hit song after being fed all the Billboard #1 hits? Or fall in love with Rachel McAdams after being fed all the Owen Wilson movies?

How do we integrate these robots into our society? Will we be replaced?? What does it even mean to be human?!?! These questions, and more, will be answered in…

Robot Rock: Why AI won’t be producing our music in the future

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I welcome artificially intelligent robots with open arms because they’ll help us reconnect with our humanity. By taking over menial tasks like cleaning, they’re empowering us with the time we need to develop uniquely human skills, such as those needed to create art or play sports. And the only way for us to thrive in the AI revolution is to reconnect with the unique traits that make us human: compassion, creativity, and consciousness.

When UGG-wearing, Starbucks-Instagramming basic bitches see that their actions are transparent enough for a robot to predict, maybe they’ll put some effort into being original. But for now, while IBM’s Jeopardy-winning AI machine ‘Watson’ can’t even pass an 8th-grade science test, let alone diagnose medical conditions like its founders intended for it to do, we’ll just have to avoid UGGs and Crocs like they carry Ebola.

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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger:

Songs that stand the test of time have one thing in common: they express an emotional truth that every new generation can relate to when it comes of age. These seminal works of art were created by people who had the free time to lust for status, prompting them to strengthen their soft-skills, like empathy, and develop their hard-skills, like discerning how much compression to add to an instrument’s recording, to the point where others could enjoy their work.

It’s no secret that we come alive in our artistic pursuits, so the less time we spend doing soul-destroying menial labor like dicing onions or scrubbing grease, the more time we have to live. As AI grows to the point where we can delegate real work to it, we’ll move closer to a world where more people can be free to live life on their terms.

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Face To Face:

AI will augment our organic intelligence, not compete against it. Chess legend Garry Kasparov urges us to become human-AI centaurs that can make more educated decisions after having instant access to an almost infinite database of knowledge, aka Google on steroids. So while we can’t endow metal with consciousness to write its own agenda, we can endow it with sentience to follows ours to the tee.

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The harmony between artificial and organic intelligence can be clearly seen in the 38th move in the AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol game of Go. Fan Gui, the Go expert, described the machine’s 37th move as “beautiful” because it was the last thing he’d expect a human to do, which prompted Lee Sedol to leave the audience aghast when he performed the God move: A move so elegantly human, because a robot provoked it.

With robots as our subordinates, we have the power to give them whatever agenda helps us meet our goals. And because they have no preordained moral compass like well-adjusted people, their blind obedience can be used to meet anyone’s goal. So, the only way to make sure they’re used to help us is to make sure their masters have goals that serve the greater good, and the most effective way to do that is by putting art into the world that gives people a sense that life is worth living. Watching HBO’s Silicon Valley, you’ll see what I mean.

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Truth is, any job that can be replaced by a robot was inhumane to begin with and took more from the worker than it gave them. Our physical strengths should serve our creative pursuits, not Ramen noodles. And with the peace of mind that our mindless tasks have been taken over by mindless blocks of steel, we can feel the weight drop from our shoulders and continue doing what we do best.

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Human After All:

AI machines can string together a tried-and-true chord progression over a drum beat and develop a melodic motif into a riff to create a track that rides the musical bandwagon of the month, so if you’re in the business of cranking out disposable beats, watch your back. But if you’re expressing an honest sentiment, you’re secure in a lane of your own.

Yakov Vorobyev, President of Mixed In Key and Odesi, two softwares that respectively help DJs keymatch their libraries and assist producers in creating their tunes had this to say:

I’m not against AI, I just don’t want computers to take over the creative arts. It wouldn’t be the same to walk into a museum and see artwork generated in Photoshop with zero human intervention. I like the idea of putting people in the pilot seat, and giving them tools to tell AI what to do. I just don’t want the process to become autonomous.

The performance is the goal in human endeavors; the journey the destination. Robots will ultimately take over any task that has a clear yes-or-no outcome. In a game like “Go” every move can be extrapolated to the end of the game when there’s a clear winner or loser. Winning in the arts is a different story, it’s about being able to convey ideas and emotions that are explicitly human. From finding love to cutting off negative friends, these victories are so subtle that only the waviest people are able to recognize them, let alone a block of steel.

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Thank you to Cade Metz, Kevin Kelly and David Rotman for their informative articles on AI, this post wouldn’t exist without them.

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