February 12, 2017


John read this morning …

… that some wag has developed a robot to complete the ‘I am not a robot’ captcha that some sites seem to enjoy putting humanity through the ringer on. John couldn’t have cared less. This. This robot here. This robot he could care a lot about.

You know the singularity has arrived when the robots start playing marimbas. Shimon, engineer Guy Hoffman’s robot musician, doesn’t play programmed music — it improvises in ensembles with human players, communicating with a “socially expressive head” and favoring musical ideas that are unlikely to be chosen by humans, so as to lead the performance in genuinely novel directions.

As those chaps who used to stand on the street corners of the cities and towns of England’s green and pleasant land would have once had it ….

Read All About It.

Graham quibbles …

… that impressive as this is, and good as the music is, Graham doubts the “head” is really much more than ‘fun filigree’. And he doesn’t see the ‘less human’ element to the music. In the end, perhaps, he doesn’t see a problem with ‘programmed music’. After all, Shimon is just better programming than, say, Compressorhead, albeit way cuter…

(Graham does wonder what Lemmy would have made of this…)

And in terms of interactivity, here’s a full robot band that (supposedly) interacts with the audience to vary the music –

which is more than can be said for at least one ’70s band (Doobies?) that proudly proclaimed their music played live never varied, not even by a note, from the studio version. If that’s not programmed, then what is?

John considers …

… that Compressorhead appears to be

a project of Berlin-based artist Frank Barnes and collaborators Markus Kolb and Stock Plum consisting of a robot band that plays on real electric and acoustic instruments. The robots are made from recycled parts and are controlled via a MIDI sequencer.

… at least according to Wikipedia. And though this chap doesn’t want to be overly picky - perhaps even pedantic - he does see a very noticeable difference. Compressorhead is indeed a robotic band - but not AI, so yes it plays stuff - but with itself. (if you’ll pardon the visual).

There is a more detailed analysis in this article from mid 2015 explaining why an organisation like DARPA would be interested in Jazz - but interested they are. You will note that our friends Compressorhead are given an honorary mention  as a band that …

offers another variation on teaching computers to play music.

This youtube video might give a deeper insight as to what Shimon is actually doing. And this piece has a rather nice (if detailed) summary using words.

As for Z-Machines … aahh yes. I do recall Zima. And I do recall saying to myself … ‘WTF’. Well Zima didn’t die, moreover it is very alive and very well in Japan and hanging out with Z-Machines. So - I will say again … ‘WTF’

John has only one extra question … should he cross post this section of the article to here - where he has already discussed that in the Beer world (and indeed Zima is a ‘post-truth’ beer) … just because you can should absolutely not mean that you should.

But There’s More !

This chap is definitely taking umbrage at the other chaps’s use of the word ‘programming’. He was reminded of this article over the Christmas season. (throwing caution to the wind and eschewing political correctness for a moment) … in the article, it is noted that some other chaps (not these chaps - other chaps - so as to prevent any possible confusion) .. these other chaps ‘programmed’ ‘The Google’ to do foreign language translation. I am sure you have used it yourself - pour French, German or even Swahili in one end - and out pops The Queen’s English from the other.

Well - that last bit is not quite true … it tends to be English as spoken here in the colonies - and is occasionally ‘Broken’ - but never aswell as this ….

Anyway, back to my point. Turns out that the ‘program’ that these chaps developed was so darn clever that it turned round and started writing it’s own program for future translations, because the original chaps were just not up to the job of what the program thought was ‘efficient’ translation.

It’s kind of meta. And definitely not your father’s program. Which I supect is the programming that lies behind Compressorhead.

(See - there was a point to the diversion).

Oh - and finally ..

I am sure that Lemmy would have been very happy and quite confident that the likes of Can, Tangerine Dream, Dave Brock et al will have picked up the mantle and run with it. (Assuming that the mantle was theirs to run with - I do not see any of them as part of the criminal class.) That said, Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas - or Thanksgiving for that matter.


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