First AI came for the heavy metal musicians, and we did nothing

rock concert

Whenever regular folks express concern about artificial intelligence (AI) and robots stealing their jobs, guys like this assure them that AI programs are likely to instead assume the role of bright but humble assistants, taking over menial and redundant tasks so workers can unleash the full power of their unique human creativity and problem-solving ability on high-value projects and strategic goals.

Tell that to black metal musicians! As The Outline reports, two musical technologists have built an algorithm that, in conjunction with a neural network, is able to create music without using real, live musicians. CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski fed audio bits from an album by black metal band Krallice through a neural network, instructing it to predict the waveform type of the subsequent audio sample.

“If the guess was right, the network would strengthen the paths of the neural network that led to the correct answer, similar to the way electrical connections between neurons in our brain strengthen as we learn new skills,” The Outline writes.

It was rough going at first. “Early in its training, the kinds of sounds it produces are very noisy and grotesque and textural,” Carr tells The Outline. But like an earnest music student practicing scales, the algorithm kept trying and learning. “As it improves its training, you start hearing elements of the original music it was trained on come through more and more,” Carr says.

By the way, Krallice will be opening for the algorithm in a winter tour to support the program’s new album. Just kidding! Algorithms can’t tour (or at least they can’t wreck a hotel room).

Maybe it’s a good thing that AI can create enjoyable music, or come up with creative marketing ideas, or work up a list of design options. And if you’ve read as many music bios as I have, you would understand why some producers would be thrilled to work with a creative entity that doesn’t get drunk, drugged-out, or difficult in the recording studio.

Still, this strikes me as an ominous development. Humans may not match the processing power of AI, but we’re supposed to be imbued with spark, spirit, and inspiration. Will these become undervalued as AI learns to grind out brilliant product ideas, fascinating works of art, and visionary business strategies? What if an algorithm can do a better job creating graphics than an enterprise art director? All without needing vacation time or health insurance.

Enterprise employees who don’t want to be replaced by AI or similar technology must be able to do things algorithms and robots cannot. Unfortunately, that list appears to be shrinking, as does the advantage our very humanity affords us. When AI starts creating convincing soul music, the game is over.


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  1. I listened to couple of programs creating music and I am not at all impressed. One was even composing film music – excellent for such unclear themed, just-for-atmosphere kind of music. But no, for now AI music creators are just auxiliaries, the quality of their work is still low.But wait! There is more! I saw a painting by AI in Van Gogh’s style – it was obviously his style, but something was, pardon my pun, out of picture. The colours were out of balance (slightly but perceptiblly) and the touches were a bit weird, lacking that something that makes this painter a genius.

  2. Jim Northrup says:

    “Algorithms can’t tour…” 🙂


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