Science and Technology

AI could create music that can manipulate your emotions – and voting choices

AI can churn out tunes that mimic our best songwriters. But will any of these new tracks ever really resonate with us?

Photo credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Huawei UK

Lucas Cantor

Published: August 20, 2023 at 2:00 am

You might not think that an artificial intelligence, or AI, capable of making music would signal the end of free will, but others think differently. Particularly those who gathered at Mexico City’s El Cantoral symphony hall in 2019 for the Latin American premiere of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Finished With AI.

I sat between my father and a Chilean movie star as the conductor led the orchestra in a performance of the symphony that I had written… Well, that I had sort of written.

Before he died in 1828, Franz Schubert wrote half of the movements needed for a symphony and then abandoned the work. Over 190 years later, I ‘finished’ the symphony using melodies generated by an AI.

It was simple really. We trained an AI using Schubert’s melodies and gave it the task of generating new melodies that sounded like the training data. Then I wove them together with some original ideas and an orchestra brought the result to life in that Mexican symphony hall.

As the orchestra finished Schubert’s original work and began the music the AI and I had written, I could feel the crowd’s energy shift from astonishment to indignation and fear. They seemed afraid that an AI might be able to make emotional symphonic music.

You can see their point: an AI that makes emotional music could affect the emotional lives of thousands or even millions of people in a small, but profound way; just like a human musician does.


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