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Published on December 12th, 2016 | by Alan Cross

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Canadian AI Researchers Get a Program to Write a Christmas Carol (With Mixed Results)

Boffins at the University of Toronto deep into studying the potential of artificial intelligence have managed to create an AI that wrote a Christmas carol.

Their “neural karaoke” program can analyze any digital photo and use visual cues to write lyrics and a melody. Not bad, but it ain’t no “Christmas Shoes.” (Then again, I’d consider that a major victory.)

The Guardian reports:

“We are used to thinking about AI for robotics and things like that. The question now is what can AI do for us?” said Raquel Urtasun, an associate professor in machine learning and computer vision at Toronto’s computer science lab. “You can imagine having an AI channel on Pandora or Spotify that generates music, or takes people’s pictures and sings about them,” adds her colleague, Sanja Fidler. “It’s about what can deep learning do these days to make life more fun?”

Okay, fine. But then the U of T people also taught the program how to dance. They fed it an hour of video from the game Let’s Dance and 50 hours of song lyrics, resulting in a vocabulary 3,390 words. And then




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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