On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data was a pretty formidable violinist. But while he was technically accurate, his playing was too perfect. Like other AI machines, he couldn’t string together the notes with feeling.
Getting a computer to write and perform music as well as humans are the goals of a number of experimenters around the world, including people at Google. Why? To better understand the notion of cognition–and maybe to bring the Singularity a little closer. From Fast Company:
Listening to and making music is worth pursuing because, researchers say, both activities can help intelligent systems achieve the holy grail of intelligence: cognition. Just as computers are starting to evolve from simply reading text to understanding speech, computers might start to regularly interpret and generate their own music.
“You can learn an awful lot about language by studying text. MIDI gives us the musical equivalent. The more we understand about music creation and music perception, the more we’ll understand general, important aspects of communication and cognition,” says Eck, now a research scientist on Google’s Magenta project.