When considering art, one must at some point or another question it’s origin and what makes it so special. Some people believe art comes from something beyond our comprehension; a higher power of some sort. Others believe that art at its core is a very human thing. No matter what you believe, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt your current philosophy and force you to reflect on what it all means.
In 2014, Melomics released 0music – an album composed by an artificial intelligence named Melomics109 without any human intervention whatsoever. You can watch and listen to one of the songs from the album here. Now, the music isn’t anything special; it’s no Mozart or Beatles. However, it’s lack musical greatness doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the step taken. As we’ve all learned from studying disruption innovation, most disruptive innovations start out unimpressive; that’s why most people don’t pay attention until it’s too late. As a musician who has studied disruptive innovation, this scares me. I’m scared of the potential that an AI can reach not just musically, but across every genre of art. There are even instances where AIs are writing film scripts. Again, they’re terrible, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a step and a giant one.
There are multiple reasons why this scares me. I’m scared of an obstacle that I think humanity will face and has faced repeatedly in history. It’s the same obstacle we faced when we learned that the sun did not revolve around the earth. When AI achieves a level of artistic creativity that leaves us in awe, I think we will all question how special humans really are. As of right now, art is very much a reflection of our experiences, and often times an extension of who we are. When we like a song, we feel connected to the artist – it’s all very grounded in relationships. How will that change when something that isn’t human does the creating? What is there to connect with? I’m also scared because humans are very creative. We love it! If we didn’t, then there wouldn’t constantly be new innovations, music, movies, etc. What are we going to do when we don’t have to create anymore because we have machines doing it for us? How will we adapt? Lastly, to refer back to the question from the beginning of this post: “Who do we owe this tree to?” I think the evolution of AI will make answering this question even more complicated.