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Embracing your inner algorithm.

algorithm n.

A finite set of unambiguous instructions that, given some set of initial conditions, can be performed in a prescribed sequence to achieve a certain goal and that has a recognisable set of end conditions.

Part One: Deep Bach (Lie Lie byes?)

Sometime in March 2019, an audience of discerning classical music aficionados gathered to listen to music. Not just any music. This was Bach fused with an AI composition. The audience had assembled with the task of weeding out the unassailable mastery of the human composer.  During the performance, they voted by flashing a card with a blue human face on one side and a red robot face on the other. Much of the time, they it wrong. AI had crossed that boundary of mastery. It had, in computational terminology, passed the ‘Turing Test’, which is when a machine exhibits behaviour that is indistinguishable from human behaviour.

AI has been developed to adapt its behaviour with machine learning, which involves feeding computers examples until they learn to find the critical patterns which will help to create their own content.

 Marcus du Sautoy offers the Bach audience test.

There is a specific pattern structure in Bach – specifically in his chorale cantatas, a polyphonic hymn that starts with a tune – sung by the soprano – with an addition of three harmonies – sung by an alto, tenor and a bass :

The minute-long piece you hear below, and whose score you see, comes from DeepBach, a system developed by Gaetan Hadjeres and Francois Pachet at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris. AI researchers are attempting something akin to hubris, to prove that they can take AI further than we’d previously thought possible — that they can make machines creative, just like human beings. 

AI’s Deep Bach

We’ve all felt the one thing that’s uniquely human is our creativity. Now we’re having to ask, what if AI can approach even that? Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford mathematician and author of ‘The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI’ suggests debunks the pretentions around creativity in general: “People think art is something very mystical — that there’s something appearing out of nothing, the creative genius. I wanted to reveal that a lot of creative acts do have structure and pattern and algorithms and logic.” Says Du Sautoy. “Many people think emotions are just being spilled out onto the page, but any composer will tell you, “I’m actually doing something very structured, and the emotion arises out of the controlled acts I’m using in creating a piece of music.”

Next week… Part 2 and more.