If powering vacuum cleaners and beating humans at chess was not enough, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is now capable of even producing songs.
The 2021 ‘AI Song Contest’ winner was the song, Listen to Your Body Choir. The track was co-written using AI and drew inspiration from the 1961 song ‘Daisy Bell’, the first one to have been sung by a computer.
But, are computer programs actually capable of creativity?
The answer is ‘no’ or, more appropriately, ‘not yet’. Although recent machine learning developments have allowed computers to mimic human intelligence, they are still some way off of attaining human creativity.
Singing with AI
For the aforementioned contest, teams comprising data scientists, researchers, and musicians came up with a four-minute track, using AI in the songwriting process.
The jury claimed that the winning song contained synthetic elements that morphed seamlessly with human performance. According to them, this seamless morph led to an organic synthesis between AI and humans.
Experts are unsure about AI’s ability to create original compositions. Creativity is the ability to produce novel, appropriate, and unexpected work in a way that is useful.
However, just because you are creating something new does not mean you are starting from scratch. For example, when we innovatively associate familiar ideas, we are engaging in creative activity. This is where AI can be really powerful, since these systems can combine large amounts of information in ways that may not be very obvious to the human mind.
Smart Does Not Equate to Inspired
There is a fundamental difference between creativity and intelligence.
Although intelligence can often be associated with task performances, there are no clear criteria for measuring creativity. We are not at a point where AI can replace human creativity, and we should not expect to get there any time soon.
Numerous artists train by attempting to recreate the paintings of masters and, in the process, they figure out some of the masters’ techniques while also discovering many of their own.
According to Roger Firsten, a professor who studies creativity at the SUNY Buffalo State Center for Applied Imagination, using AI in music is akin to a human on an electric bike. He says that the motor assists, but the human still has to pedal; similarly, the composer still needs to compose, but AI can help with things like chord structures and melody. Once the composer has laid down the thematic material, AI can recommend harmonies.
Firsten says that, regardless of how complex AI becomes, it may never get truly creative.
To sum up, while AI can certainly complement human creativity by processing large amounts of information, it is – at least for the time being – incapable of replicating it. Writing music is about inspiration, and experts are unsure if AI can ever be inspired.