Future artificial intelligence (AI) programs promise to alter our understanding and experiences with human culture. From the music, to language, to art, AI will play a more prominent role in human culture in the years to come. AER’s event Artificial Intelligence: Are Regions Up to The Challenge? will bring together field experts, academics, artists, politicians, and stakeholders to discuss these coming changes, providing an excellent learning opportunity for each involved.
Redefining Human Culture
The name for the human species, Homo Sapiens literally translates into wise man. The name we gave ourselves was a compliment to our intellectual abilities, a nod to the notion that humans possess abilities no other animal does. For hundreds of years, skills ranging from cooking to painting have been considered the sole domain of humans. But as machinery and AI have progressed, humans have had to adjust their perception of inherently human abilities. During the first industrial revolution thousands of textile workers and craftsmen were displaced by machines, jobs that had been performed by humans for centuries. In the 21st century as AI has displaced larger and larger swaths of human society, some have claimed that culture is the last bastion of human tradition, immune to AI’s disruptive effects. However, as AI continues to make headway in the arts it is likely people will be forced to redefine what are considered uniquely human abilities once again.
AI and Art
Al already can perform complex analysis of art by comparing hundreds of images to one another, with Rutgers University’s AI program at the forefront of the industry. When the program examined the Mona Lisa, it came back with interesting insights, scoring it lower on its creativity scale than far less regarded Leonardo da Vinci paintings. Beyond critiquing artwork, it confirmed the widely accepted belief among art historians that French impressionist Claude Monet was a primary influence of American impressionist Childe Hassam’s by noticing the similarities between their works. Art historian Marian Mazzone thinks that AI has the potential to upend the art industry, with its ability compare enormous amounts of visual material at once. AI is not only capable of analyzing art, but of producing high quality art as well. Rutgers University’s AI art program recently generated artwork which 53 percent of viewers were unable to distinguish from a human composition. Meanwhile, Google has also invested in Deep Dream, which alters pictures to produce digital art such the piece below.
AI and Music
Computer scientists are also beginning to make strides in AI generated music. While programs are still unable to compete with bestselling artists like The Rolling Stones or U2, they will still have an increasingly large impact in the music industry. Industry leaders believe that some programs have progressed enough to start appearing as background music in elevators or in video games. Other advancements in AI generated music are not even aimed at producing consumable music. Australian company Popgun’s AI program Alice can accompany humans playing the piano in a duet of sorts. Musicians play the first notes and Alice guesses at what comes next, creating a duet. Spotify has also heavily invested in the industry, hiring François Pachet away from Sony whose AI program created the song Daddy’s Car designed to mimic The Beatles, albeit with human vocals and song writing.
Personalisation of Culture
As the algorithms which make personalised recommendations continue to advance, AI will not only transform the way creative arts are produced, but also change the way people experience them. One of Spotify’s most popular features, Discover Weekly, which delivers a weekly playlist to users that they are expected to like based on their streaming history, provides an ongoing example of personally curated music. Throughout 2017 Spotify continued to pour resources into improving its music suggestions, acquiring four startups specialised in content recommendation. Not to be outdone, television streaming giant Netflix and Ebook company Kobo are also investing heavily in improving their recommendations to users. For years, people relied upon the radio, lists like the NY Times Bestsellers, or word of mouth to find the latest the creative arts had to offer. The improved accuracy of AI recommended music, television, and literature promises to change this process by placing quality entertainment a click away.
Growing With, Not Against AI
While AI will certainly disrupt the arts and culture industry, not all see the coming changes negatively. Many believe that AI will provide new jobs and opportunities for people to enrich human culture. Indeed, this would not be the first time professions have grown alongside computer assisted technology. In the 1984, graphic design was transformed with the arrival of Apple’s Macintosh computers. The profession changed from one involving painstaking physical work to one conducted digitally, an event that is now called the desktop publishing revolution. AER’s partner in its event, GLUON aims to achieve similar harmony between AI and artists in the 21st century. GLUON brings together academics, artists, entertainers, and innovators to provide an opportunity for them to learn from one another and grow together. They will be present at AER’s event on AI on November 30th where Christophe De Jaeger will moderate the discussion group on culture. In the evening there will be an art exhibition from artists at GLUON at AER’s end of year reception. AER’s event on AI will give the regions the space to see what other regions are doing to prepare for the changes AI will bring to culture, hear from artists who will be affected by them, and learn from field experts. Culture has never been a static entity in human society. With each era, it has evolved alongside new technologies that have emerged. The progression of AI may represent the latest development in the transformation of human culture.
Photo Credits: Martin Toma, Wikimedia Commons