Google’s ongoing experiments into machine learning are always fascinating, fundamentally reconfiguring the way things are programmed and implying possible sea changes in, well, pretty much any field that involves computers. Still, we are in the early days of this technology, and its impression of humanity is noticeably off. This is particularly true when it attempts art. We have marveled together over a neural network’s stomach-churning attempt at writing a Christmas carol—never forget the line “I’ve always been there for the rest of our lives”—and now Google has released something called the A.I. Duet.
As coder and musician Yotam Mann describes above, the technology has absorbed vast quantities of music to create an idea of what relationships of notes sound like together. So rather than telling the A.I. exactly what to do when you play a note, it has learned what sorts of keys and rhythms we typically want, and then it picks some. The video shows people picking out little figures that the robot then tries to match; if so inclined, you can also just keep on playing, trying to play jazz with it in real time. It’s interesting stuff, and it all sounds awful. You can play with the keyboard here and watch its feeble brain attempt to keep up with you. Laugh with delight at the superiority of the human appreciation for art! Laugh while you still can!
Afterward, you can feel varying degrees of superiority while playing around with the rest of Google’s A.I. experiments, including a drum machine, a handwriting machine, a bird sound machine, a drawing machine, and more.