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Will Magenta Make 'Art'?

Wednesday 20th July 2016

One of our favourite topics here is the development of artificial intelligence and whether or not a machine can be taught to be creative. We've looked in detail at the infamous Deep Dream project by Google, which uses a neural feedback loop to generate images, and how it can be manipulated by conscious human artists to create incredible images.

But what about the next step forwards? If it's possible for an adaptive neural network to 'learn' how to create images, can it be taught how to create other forms of art? If so, is it technically being 'creative', or is it just regurgitating all of what it has been fed?

The real question is whether or not that's really any different than what we human artists do, those of us who are (usually) generally accepted as having a creative talent. Are we driven purely by everything that we have experienced or is there some innate spark of creativity, a unique genesis within us that allows us to truly create new things?

Google has launched a new machine learning project named Magenta with the hopes of exploring the possibilities of a creative machine. So far, a number of researchers have joined the project, and some interesting work is already being done.

Douglas Eck, one of the researchers currently attached to the Magenta project, explains his curiosity about machine learning on his Google bio page: "Hypothetically, if we showed a piano-playing robot a huge collection of Chopin performances--- from the best in the world all the way down to that of a struggling teenage pianist---could it learn to play well by analyzing all of these examples? If so, what’s the right way to perform that analysis? In the end I learned a lot about the complexity and beauty of human music performance, and how performance relates to and extends composition."

During a recent panel at the Moogfest music festival, he commented, "There's a couple of things that got me wanting to form Magenta, and one of them was seeing the completely, frankly, astonishing improvements in the state of the art. And I wanted to demystify this a little bit."

No matter what the results wind up being, it's an exciting time to be an artist! The nature of creativity has long been one of the most appealing human mysteries, and the ability to teach a computer the concept of creativity is truly amazing. 

Posted on July 20th 2016 on 08:32pm

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