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The influence of Artificial Intelligence on culture: How AI software wrote a ‘new’ Nirvana song

The Digital Age has changed our lives and due to technological developments, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was created. Whether we are supporters of Artificial Intelligence or not, AI is unquestionably becoming a part of our lives. On 5 April, multiple magazines, including Billboard and Rolling Stone, wrote reports about an AI that generated a Nirvana song “Drowned in the Sun”. This is part of the project called Lost Tapes of the 27 Club.  This project uses AI to analyse 30 songs by selected artists who struggled with mental health issues and died at the age of 27 like Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, or Amy Winehouse, and writes a “new” songs in their signature styles as part of an album. 

I think this is a great idea, which combines art and technology to partly revive these artists, although the utilisation of AI also brings up questions, doubts and, arguments amongst people. That is why I decided to collect  a few short stories about the influence of AI on music to see whether this promotes a positive change, or not.

Tupac Hologram – Coachella (2012)
Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre had a live performance at Coachella Festival in 2012 and during the gig, Tupac appeared in the form of a hologram. In fact, he “performed” a song alongside Snoop Dogg. It was a tribute to the late rapper, who died back in 1996, and for the duration of that song he was revived by technology. I believe it may be considered revolutionary and an elegant yet subtle way to remember one of the giants of American hip-hop. 

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Credit: deepakiqlect

The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour
This is another example of the utilisation of holograms to revive a famous musician – in this case, not without controversy. An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Tour was a posthumous tour to celebrate the music of the late singer, yet I believe it differs from the case of Tupac at Coachella. It’s one thing to revive the character of a rapper for a song but quite another to organise a tour to make profit (tickets were priced between £40-70) using nostalgia for a singer who sadly passed away years ago.

Will Gompertz’s article from the BBC shares my doubts regarding the credibility and authenticity of the show. Though, I would even go further with this. Is it ethical at all? Is it not enough to remember Houston by listening to the records this phenomenal singer created before her death? 

Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” Performed by Compressorhead
Before rushing to any conclusions, there’s another story that should be mentioned and it’s about an all-robot band: Compressorhead’s cover of the famous tune by Motorhead. The video was released in 2013 on YouTube and it is one of the weirdest things I have seen on the internet. Considering the fact that music is my profession, it kicks in even harder. 

On the one hand, it’s genius from the perspective of science and technological advancements; on the other hand, it’s scary to see how all the dystopian predictions of the Terminator saga are becoming a part of our reality. It is not about some illusive silhouette moving on stage, but actual robots that play actual music. They do it live!

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Credit: mikemacmarketing

Human Factor – Can We Rule It Out?
The above mentioned cases contain interesting points regarding science, and remarkable engineering and craftsmanship, yet I think the arts and music can only provide us with magic when they include the human factor. It’s those little human things that make art artistic. I believe that our emotions and souls are what make music magical and spiritual, something that engines and machines could never have, and this is the point where the possibility of an argument occurs.

Dear reader, in this article, I didn’t mean to offend anyone, or seem to be disrespectful to anyone whose opinion differs from mine regarding the subject. No, not at all. My tone may sound provocative but it’s only because I genuinely mean to trigger debate. Do you see? Could artists be replaced by holograms or robots? Could the human factor be eliminated? 

I believe technological advancements are essential, but when it comes to music and the arts, a line should be drawn that should not be crossed, because art is what makes us human. 

 

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About the author

Aron Debreceni

Aron is a journalist and a student of Utrecht University (NL). He has been doing his own singer-songwriter project 'Aron D' since 2016. Besides music, he is open to write articles about politics, education, health, history and travel.

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