February 26, 2010
Great article on the two computerised musical composition systems built by David Cope. There are some fantastic quotes throughout, but my favourite:
The attitude, which he settled on at a young age, is to “treat myself as if I’m dead,” so he won’t affect how his work is received. “If you have to promote it to get people to like it,” he asks, “then what have you really achieved?”
Other choice quotes, such as
[In] an anthology of debates about Cope’s research, Hofstadter worries Emmy proves that “things that touch me at my deepest core — pieces of music most of all, which I have always taken as direct soul-to-soul messages — might be effectively produced by mechanisms thousands if not millions of times simpler than the intricate biological machinery that gives rise to a human soul.”
“All the computer is is just an extension of me,” Cope says. “They’re nothing but wonderfully organized shovels. I wouldn’t give credit to the shovel for digging the hole. Would you?”
highlight the enormity of the disconnect between Cope and his peers on the subject of a machine’s ability to affect human emotion, of which the argument doesn’t seem so much about the music having being “written by a machine”, but a subconscious pseudo-intellectual or spiritual rejection of being emotional manipulated by purely manufactured material. Is it that we find human composers (with their stockpile of neuroses and emotional investment) produce art more enjoyable because of the rich fantasy we subconsciously create about the genesis of their work? It’s hard to donate emotional attachment when we know the author didn’t, and it’s not until we strip back that almost-familial empathetical requirement that we realise how bizarre it is that we can’t enjoy something purely for how it affects us. Of course without that empathy society would probably collapse.
Most of our time isn’t spent creating, but reflecting on the genesis of other’s creativity, and I can understand the effect that has upon enjoying computerised work if you believe a ‘soulless’ machine is generating something from nothing. We aren’t quite there yet, and I wonder whether we’ll be able to empathise with creative computers when they do experience emotions, simulated or not.
February 14, 2010
Awesome article on the Daddening of Video Games from Stephen Totilo at Kotaku.