Over the previous decade, there has been an upsurge of debates relating to Artificial Intelligence (A.I), Automation and Robotic systems, as people fear that A.I will take their jobs, others look forward to it as they imagine A.I picking up the shackles of the labour workforce, and freeing humanity to innovate and focus on creative endeavours. A.I can also be applied to creative tasks like music writing, mixing and mastering, which recreates some of the initial fears of A.I replacing humans, but again others see it as a tool to be utilised, to educate, improve, and even create more job opportunities.
Science Fiction has a way of influencing technology and exploring how the future may look by showcasing possible realities; this paper will investigate these scenarios, and how they have led to innovation within the music and technology industry. There are also social implications of A.I replacing the workforce to consider, and what possible proposals could potentially solve the incoming crisis. In defining Intelligence, I refer to the definition outlined by Harris, S (2018), which is the ability to meet goals that achieve possible outcomes. In defining Artificial Intelligence I will refer to the definition set by Frankish, K (2015) “A.I is understanding, modelling and creating intelligence of various forms”; This sets the groundwork when referring to A.I, it is a system that has been designed to meet specific outcomes. There is also a distinct difference between A.I and automation, where automation is set and collects data, A.I can interpret it and make decisions (M. West, 2018).
Science fiction spawns technological ideas into reality, while the growth of A.I aims to set humanity free to innovate, it too can serve as a creative tool to educate and produce jobs.
Science Fiction Influencing Reality
Weber, R (2016) argues how science fiction is influencing technology, citing the science fiction book “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” (Verne, J, 1870) as an example, which described underwater submarine technology 80 years before it was possible. Science Fiction has a way of depicting future technologies, with A.I and Robotics on the rise, is there any fictional examples of how A.I and Robotics are entering the creative industries like music?; This will be investigated in this paper as it could give insight to possible future outcomes for new technology, and the implications this brings to society and the creative industry.
The Rise of A.I, Automation & Robotics and the Inevitable Social Issues
A.I technology and robotics are on the rise in particular to the labour job market (Hawksworth, (2018), Waldman, L (2018) explains how this could free humanity to innovate while also exploring creative endeavours like music and arts, but only if the social and economic boundaries are overcome. Waldman, L (2018) and Makridakis, S (2017) both describe a time in the near future when the majority of the jobs become automated by A.I and Robotics, and how this leads to an inevitability of Universal Basic Income (UBI), as the state needs to implement a solution that will support its citizens. This type of solution also prevents workers from being exploited by employers, as working would be a choice, and not a necessity to survive. Hanna, R (2018) examines UBI and compares it to a targeted income, universal meaning everyone in the state receives a basic income, both rich and poor. A targeted income can be used to target specifically those in need, with a higher reserve of funds as it is not distributed to everyone in the state, meaning the poor receive more. Hana, R (2018) identifies the central issue of a targeted income, many people who are poor, for some reason or another slip through the cracks, and do not receive the income they are entitled to, causing unnecessary suffering. Despite the negative consequences to those individuals that slip through this net, Hana, R (2018) argues in favour of targeted income. McGee, J, (2018) defines UBI, and explains it must meet three conditions to be classified as such; these are unconditionality, liveability and for every citizen. Under this definition, UBI is an actual living wage for every citizen. Meaning that yes, the rich will receive UBI, but this does not have to mean the poor will suffer, in fact going by the definition set by McGee, J, (2018), they would no longer be poor as they would have their basic needs covered, and to be poor means one can not meet their basic needs.
Patel, P (2018) details the negative impact that A.I and Automation can have on an individuals health, with participants exhibiting unnecessary helplessness and stress from the thought or pressure of being replaced by A.I and machines. Both Patel, P (2018) and Makridakis, S (2017) share an interesting concern, in supposing that humanity is set free from labour intensive work; what of an individual's sense of purpose, their sense of achievement for fulfilling career goals, is there any point to an education if there are no jobs to prepare for? These are serious matters, and one Makridakis, S (2017) sheds light on from the other side, which mirrors the vision of Waldman, L (2018), in that humanity will strive to innovate, be creative, and spend more time with their loved ones. I find myself in this particular topic leaning to the side of an optimist. However, I do share a fear of the unknown in A.I and Robotics crossing over to the creative industries, in which case it would need further investigation as to what it means for humanity, I will further investigate the issue specific to the music industry.
A.I in the Music Industry
Simonite (2016) researched music creation with A.I by speaking with Google and developers of A.I technology. In the process Simonite (2016) discovered exactly what A.I is currently capable of, the developers explained that their A.I can learn thousands of songs by analysing the patterns that make the music. From this A.I can write a similar song by imitating paradigms from its database, this process is more commonly known as Deep Learning. Simonite (2016) also detailed how a good songwriter writes with intent, combining genres and influences, something A.I is currently incapable of performing. One advantage in utilising A.I to offer suggestions to songwriters and composers based on its massive database; is that it can help musicians explore and take their music into unknown territory, which is something they may not have necessarily done on their own.
Reilly, D (2018) explains the stigma that is associated with using A.I technology in this way, and how it can be seen as a form of cheating by some composers or songwriters. Reilly, D (2018) also discussed how other creators see it as a tool to explore ideas, whereby A.I alone is unable to achieve such outcomes, and that it requires the input of a songwriter/composer to get results. The research by Simonite (2016) was completed three years ago, and at the speed of which technology advances, it could be worth reinvestigating the subject on both A.I writing with intent, and the opinion of musicians/creatives regarding A.I.
Further Exploring The Discussion
I have always been fascinated by science fiction in both films and books. In particular how an entire universe is brought to life through the fruition of an author or director, and how at times these fictional concepts crossover and become a reality. A prime example is 2001: A Space Odyssey, (1968), in the film David Bowman and Frank Poole can be found eating their meal while watching computer tablets. It is important to note that this film was produced in 1968 and that such technology would not exist until 2010, a whole 42 years later, in which we would see the release of the original Apple iPad (Apple Inc, 2010).
For me, this is where it becomes interesting, and my brain starts to ponder questions like “Did Apple, and other tablet manufacturers create this technology on their own accord?“, Alternatively, “Did Apple and similar manufactures get influenced by science fiction like A Space Odyssey to create and design such technology?”. After hypothesising on these questions, I have come to the same rationale as Weber, R (2016), that science fiction is subtly influencing, guiding and inspiring new technologies, a more recent example can be found in the Disney film Smart House (1999). Smart House is based on a family home that is managed by a robot called PAT, who controls the lights, heating and learns habits from the occupants. I would argue this is not a far stretch from the Alexa hardware that many people have installed in their homes today, as it too is capable of such feats.
Another example is found in the Minority Report (2002), where Tom Cruise controls technology through hand gestures, such a thing is possible through gaming consoles and their motion tracking software. Examples of this technology are seen in the Xbox connect and also the Leap Motion. The Leap Motion makes it possible to control the Mac or PC through hand gestures, I have used this with music software to control the dynamics of an instrument, in which it feels like I am directing the musician to play louder or quieter, I would argue that this is more natural than using a mouse, keyboard or modulation wheel.
Science Fiction Influencing The Music Industry
Over the last decade there has been an increase in the fictional depictions of A.I and Robotics in the creative industries, which can be seen in All Is Full Of Love (Bjork, 1999) a music video by Bjork in which a machine is singing and performing the song, a similar example can be found in Prometheus (2012); where the android David is asked to perform on the piano, in which case David does so beautifully. I would like to give one more example, one that edges to confirm a hypothesis for the earlier proposed question, does science fiction media also influence the creative industry, in this case it’s a company that specializes in animated robotic music videos, and the video in question is “Resonant Chamber” (Animusic, 2008). As previously described, the music video is an animated robot instrument performing music, and three years later Intel manufactures a robotic musician, and openly admits that it is an inspired recreation of Resonant Chamber (Yes. No smoke and mirrors, this is an open acceptance of inspiration). Intel named their machine “Industrial Control in Concert” (Intel, 2011). I thought Intels machine was impressive, that was until I witnessed “Automatica”, by (Stanford, N (2017). I would advise anyone interested in robotics and music to watch the video, as Nigel programs a band using machines, they look similar to Jarvis from Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008) and can be seen playing bass, drums, keyboard, piano, DJ decks and more. You will be forgiven in thinking that this footage is CGI and that the robots are fake, this, however, is not the case, these machines are known as Kuka Robots, and their 100% real (PR Newswire, 2017). My thoughts after this research led to the question “Does this mean machines can be part of a band and perform live?”, Well, the short answer is yes, but I would imagine the cost of purchasing, maintaining and moving such equipment would be a terrible inconvenience, making it an unlikely scenario. Nonetheless, strictly speaking, it is possible if one has the determination and budget to do so.
The Risk to an Individual's Sense of Purpose
As previously mentioned, the report by Hawksworth (2018) confirms the trends analysed by Makridakis, S (2017) and Waldman, L (2018) in that jobs in the labour market are most likely to be managed by A.I and Robotics, in which case humanity is replaced in the process. Let us suppose that this frees humanity, and a state system like UBI is in place to support the populous, the citizens of the state would now be in a position to innovate and pursue creative endeavours, the likes of which have never been seen before. However, what are the consequences if A.I and Robotics also dominate the creative industries?, this is not outside the realm of possibility after viewing the current capabilities demonstrated by Stanford, N (2017) in his music video “Automatica”. This is not the only example, as A.I is also trickling into other creative industries like art (MacDonald, 2019), tattoos (Vincent, 2019), fictional writing (Hornigold, 2019) and journalism (Peiser, 2019). Could this lead back to the argument set by Patel, P (2018) and echoed by Makridakis, S (2017), in that a sense of purpose for humanity could be missing, which rings especially true if the creative industry is supposed to be one of the answers to giving humanity a new sense of purpose and meaning.
In order to gather information on how creative individuals are thinking about A.I entering the creative industry, I published two polls on twitter where I was able to instantly gather results by targeting specific groups of people through hashtags. The first poll was a broad question open to all creative individuals where I asked: “What are your thoughts of A.I entering the creative industries”. The participants had four choices to choose from; “it is a tool for creatives”, “could cost people jobs”, “it will have no effect”, “A.I cannot be creative”, see results from the poll below.
It was a relatively small sample size of 19 participants that took part in the poll, and the majority voted in favour of “it is a tool for creatives”, which came to 53%. The second most popular answer was “Could cost people jobs”, which tallied to 37%. This was the option I initially thought would top the polls as the awareness of A.I replacing people in the workforce is well known. Overall it was a mixed result with a clear number one showing that just over half of creatives see A.I as a tool for their work.
In the second poll I specifically targeted the music industry with the question; “What are your thoughts on songwriters/composers producing music with A.I?”, I enabled only two choices for the question, disallowing any indifference, as I wanted to gauge an understanding from composers and songwriters on their thoughts between “it is a tool”, and “it is cheating”. This poll was a simple follow up to the work of Reilly, D (2018) and Simonite (2016), to see if the perspective on A.I has changed much. Thirty-eight participants took part in the study, see the results below.
The poll results clearly show that composers and songwriters clearly think of A.I as a tool, this could be because of the popular releases from the iZotope range over the previous two years that target music producers. The iZotope software range incorporates A.I to offer suggestions to composers and songwriters on their mixing and mastering, which could explain the poll results. When comparing the results to the previous poll, it suggests music composers and songwriters accept using A.I as a tool more so than the other creative industries. In order to get a fair answer to this hypothesis more research looking into each specific industry, for example, Art, Tattoos, Fictional Writing and Journalism would be required.
Summary of Testing Music A.I Software
In an attempt to determine how competent A.I is at producing music, I downloaded trial versions of the various software; iZotope Neutron & Ozone (iZotope, 2019), Orb Composer (Portelli, R, 2018) , Amadeus (2019), Ludwig (2018), Rapidcomposer (Music Developments, 2018), Amper (2018) and YouCompose (2018). I noticed they all had their unique qwerks, and rarely was a melody generated that sounded great out of the box, the process involved substantial tweaking, adjusting parameters for chords, note lengths, rhythms, scales, time signatures, tempo, dynamics and scale modes.
In general, I found that there was still significant work to do in producing a coherent song, but I did notice an improvement in the speed of workflow when using the software. Take for example Orb Composer, I was working on a project were I had one week to turn over and produce five tracks for a video game soundtrack, when using Orb I could import my melody, and the software was able to generate multiple variations, this helped when considering transitions, breaks and different takes on the central theme. I was able to experiment more than I would ordinarily dare as the results were instantaneous and I was not wasting time. When mixing and mastering I found the iZotope range useful, as it automatically made decisions regarding EQ, Compression and Saturation, making quick work of locating and tweaking problem areas. I noticed the A.I software acting as a companion, sharing ideas, and contributing to mix and mastering decisions, in the end, the final results were down to my judgment, as the A.I was unable to act on intent, which still rests in the hands of the user.
Artificial Intelligence Intelligence Creating Jobs In The Music Industry
I wanted to finish this paper on a positive note looking at the company Aiva Technologies, which spawned the first A.I to be recognised by a royalties collection society (Healy, A, 2018). The A.I is known as Aiva and writes its own music, now you may think great, the previous software I mentioned helps composers, but this one is taking my job, well the company is making a companion version similar to the previously mentioned releases. Aiva however, had the opposite effect, it writes cinematic music pieces for TV and Film. Once the music is ready to go, it prints the sheet music which is then passed to a live orchestra to perform, this act alone can take 50 to 100 performers, all hired to perform and add life to the music, then a host of recording, mixing and mastering engineers are required to complete the track (Aiva Technologies, 2018). When Aiva writes a piece of music to be performed, it involves the hiring of up to a hundred individuals, essentially creating jobs within the music industry.
A.I, Automation and Robotics will eventually replace the majority of the labour workforce, this calls into concern the societal implications, as well as an individual's wellbeing and their sense of purpose. These concerns have quickly become a topic of relevance in the music industry, with what once was fictional depictions of A.I and robotics performing music, has now turned into a reality. However, there has also been a surge in music writing and production tools that integrate A.I; these can help musicians and engineers create and produce music, while other A.I developers have found a way to create more job opportunities within the music industry, generating the opposite effect of job loss.
After testing multiple A.I music related software, I came to the realization that musicians and sound engineers are the demographic for such software, it will defeat the purpose if it could write with intent, as it has been designed to aid in songwriting and production, acting like a companion that offers advice on what you could do, this becomes a learning experience in its own right. Therefore the impact of A.I in the music industry is positive, A.I is a tool, a companion, it is not the competition.
I genuinely remain the optimist, and I can see A.I, Automation and Robotics pushing humanity forward, but a plan must be in place to support the citizens of the state when jobs are at stake. For this, I propose the implementation of UBI as a possible solution, which leaves the underlying issue of an individual's sense of purpose, in which UBI cannot resolve alone. More research will be needed to explore what humanity can do, and sure some individuals are keen to begin creative tasks and work towards their potential, but what of those that are not creative, and have no aspirations for innovation or business, what of their sense of purpose?
In ending this paper, I would like to quote Musk. E (2017) in his response to A.I
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.
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