Could a robot that sings jazz be the key to understanding and harnessing robot intelligence?
That is the hopes of researcher Antonio Chella at the University of Palermo, Italy.
Chella, working with Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory in Japan, will be training a Telenoid robot to mimic movements and simple sounds made by a human singer. The programming will include associating styles and sounds of music with certain emotional states during jazz duets with the human.
It will be seen if the robot (and the artificial intelligence programming) will be able to employ these associations to improvise as a human does, "choosing movements and vocalizations that complement its human duet partner".
Intelligence is often defined as the ability to find connections between existing entities - understanding that a key goes in a lock, for instance. But Chella suggests that a conscious organism should be able to go a step further and introduce novel connections - between, say, musical phrases - that result in the creation of something new. That, in essence, is the idea behind improvisation.
Jazz musicians interviewed by Chella talked of having a mental library of musical phrases that they were able to combine in new ways when prompted by other musicians. Importantly, however, this combination happens in a state that is "similar in a sense to dreaming", he says. "Not really conscious, but not unconscious." Chella wants to replicate these states in a machine. "Consciousness could be linked to these moments of combination," he says.
Soulful Sounds from a Soulless Being: Triumph of the Cyborg Composer
Emily Howell is the daughter program of Emmy (Experiments in Musical Intelligence — sometimes spelled EMI), a music composing program written by David Cope, Dickerson Emeriti Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Emily Howell’s interesting ramblings about music are actually the result of a set of computer queries.
Her music, however, is something else again: completely original and hauntingly beautiful. Even a classical purist might have trouble determining whether a human being or an AI program created it. Judge for yourself:
Rather that starting with works of the classical masters, Emily Howell uses Emmy’s output to create completely original compositions. Emily Howell is adaptable and egolessly self-modifying in her ability to respond to audience criticism. (Cope’s choice of names makes it easy to anthropomorphize “her.”)
She is able to take written or audio feedback and incorporate it into her next musical composition.
Adaptability and self-modification are two attributes of intelligence. The Turing test was devised by Alan Turing as a way of authenticating machine intelligence. His well-known test involves a human judge communicating with both a computer and a human using a computer terminal. The judge must determine which is human and which is machine. The judge cannot see either the computer or the human and must make his or her determination by interviewing both. The computer attempts to convince the judge that it is human.
As Turing originally envisioned it, the computer tries to act like a human during the interview. Ray Kurzweil argues that a narrower concept of a Turing test is for a computer to successfully imitate a human within a particular domain of human intelligence, “We might call these domain-specific Turing tests,” says Kurzweil. Emily Howell falls into the category of a domain-specific Turing test, based on a computer’s ability to write entirely original music that even classical purists can’t always distinguish from human compositions.
Has Emily Howell passed the Turing Test? Put another way, can a computer become a truly creative independent agent within the narrow domain of music composition? Cope’s efforts have been praised by both musicians and computer scientists, but they disturb some. Emily Howell raises interesting questions about what it means to be human. If a machine can write a Bach invention, a Chopin mazurka, or a Mozart concerto that is indistinguishable from the original — an entirely original piece that fools even the classical aficionado — then who’s to say that Emily Howell hasn’t passed the Turing Test?
Will the ability of a robot or software to mimic human imagination mean that it is a step towards understanding consciousness? Or, as commenter Eric Kvaalen suggests in reaction to the NewScientist article, will it simply be another robotic caricature of human talent, and AI at this stage cannot do anything more than we humans program it to do?:
No matter how good this thing gets at improvising jazz, it won’t tell us anything we don’t know about consciousness. How could it? All we will know is how to make a machine that improvises jazz."
The imaginations of humans is vast and unending, and in our quest to understand our own astounding and abstract consciousness, and in our yearning to recreate it through science, we may spawn something that blights us with nightmare fodder.
Between creepy, pale Telenoid torsos crooning jazz, and fleshy, rubbery, disembodied ’mouths’ chanting children’s songs about demons, we might reconsider the direction these studies are heading in.
The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk 2015-03-03 22:14
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative.
Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
Feinstein: Netanyahu does not speak for all Jews 2015-03-03 21:52
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “arrogant” man who does not speak for all Jews.
The Jewish lawmaker made the remarks in an interview with CNN on Sunday ahead of Netanyahu's controversial visit to the United States.
The Israeli premier arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday night ...
Netanyahu to US: Don’t negotiate ‘bad deal’ with Iran 2015-03-03 21:12
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the United States not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear energy program.
Speaking at a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, “We’ve been told for over a year that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a ...
School Textbook: “There’s No Such Thing as Reverse Racism” Only White People can be Racist 2015-03-03 2:14
Only white people can be racist.
A school textbook teaches students that “there is no such thing as reverse racism” and that women can never be as sexist as men.
The passage, which appears to be taken from a “multicultural education series” book entitled Is Everyone Equal, states, “STOP: There is no such thing as reverse racism or reverse sexism (or the ...