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Creative Artificial Intelligence: Tales of Schubert, Christie’s and Kanye

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

– Albert Einstein

By now we’ve seen many applications for Artificial Intelligence (AI): using AI computer vision in the medical field or making use of the computational power to forecast the weather or trading stocks to name only a few. And it’s safe to say that some years down the line we’ll see many more ways to use AI. This development is an opportunity and a risk at the same time and already many people are afraid of loosing their jobs due to the distribution of AI technologies. Some experts have noted that instead of worrying about machines that outperform us on processing huge amounts of data, we should focus on what makes us unique as humans, e.g. being empathetic and creative. Skills that machines are unable to learn. Are they?!

“Creativity resists automation”

– Eric Verkerke and Laura Callanan for World Economic Forum

This conception gets challenged by more and more showcases of Artificial Intelligence being used for creative tasks such as producing music or artwork. So, let’s have a look at some examples of “creative” AI and decide for yourself.

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro finishes “the Unfinished”

In 1822, Schubert created his famous Symphony No.8. Unfortunately, he never finished the piece until his death in 1828. That’s why for many years lovers of classical music only were able to listen to the first two movements – until February 4th 2019. This day marked the first public performance of the finished “Unfinished Symphony” created by an AI application. Chinese tech company Huawei worked together with film composer Lucas Cantor to create the final two movements of No.8.

Huawei’s Unfinished Symphony

They fed data into the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s dual-neural processing unit and trained the AI with around 90 pieces of Schubert’s work. Analyzing timbre, pitch and meter of the first two movements, the AI was able to crate the melody for the following two. Based on the work by the AI, Emmy award winner Cantor than orchestrated the melodies in only 30 days.

“In a few years, I don’t think it will be unusual at all to compose music this way.”

Lucas Cantor

Christie’s sells AI art for $432,500

When it comes to AI, we still witness many “first times”. Last October, the prestigious auction house Christie’s was the first to put an AI created artwork under the hammer. The piece “Portrait of Edmond Belamy” sold about 45 times higher than estimated for an incredible $432,500. Behind the masterpiece stands French art collective Obvious. They trained their algorithm with about 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th century using a generative adversarial network (the same technology that is used for creating deep fakes 😉).

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, retrieved here

Open-source lets you rhyme like Kanye

Already two years ago, back-then teen Robbie Barrat build an AI that rapped like Kanye West. If you are still not excited about the time we’re living in, take this: his rapping AI was completely build on open-source and he wrote the code within one week! He trained the AI with 6,000 lines of Kanye West’s rap hits and is now able to generate speech that raps new songs that rhyme and have flow. You can find his work called “Networks With Attitude” on Soundcloud.

In case you want to try it out yourself, find Robbie’s documentation on Github.