Adam Stoner

Artificial intelligence

There’s a lot of AI stuff out there at the moment – a lot of gushing about whether AI is a good or a bad thing – a lot of amazement, and a lot of fear too. In amongst all of that noise, there’s a whole world of quirky, fun uses for artificial intelligence – ones that perhaps leave us feeling slightly less threatened than ChatGPT.

And so, since everyone’s talking about AI, meet Endel

Endel is a company that creates an app and a technology that allows for people to experience functional, scientifically proven soundscapes.

They’re working on generative music; on music for functional means – music for relaxation, music for sleep, music for focus – but also using the power of sound as a medium.

I’ve been using Endel for a few months and I love it.

Endel is a good example of the ways in which artificial intelligence can help flesh something out. It’s not entirely powered by AI, but AI fills in the gaps.

“It’s a very interesting topic because we use kind of a hybrid approach and we’re not afraid of saying that. I know it’s a buzzword to say that ‘everything is powered by AI’, but both the tech and the sound, we found that the best results come from being a bit more mindful about what tools we are using. We implement AI in crucial places. For example, we cannot create enough melodies, so we use AI in creation of some layers, for example melodies, for example chords, and some harmonic parts which are always evolving, which are always unpredictable, but still they are placed in a set of rules.”

Artificial intelligence feels relatively new. I understand the hype. It’s fun, it’s mysterious, and I think that’s also what makes it somewhat frightening; it feels uncanny. AI is a black box that most of us don’t understand and that’s scary. It is scary when your intelligence is threatened by something you can’t quite comprehend.

AI’s unknown is the moral panic of the moment.

Are the robots coming for my job?

It’s too radical to say big words about AI will replace everything,” says Dmitry from Endel. “All those talks about singularity… let’s put them aside.”

Humankind has been here before.

People have always feared new developments in technology.

Last century, technophobia somewhat weirdly manifested as a fear of free time.

We’re perpetually obsessed with our own obsolescence.

Maybe it’s a survival instinct – I don’t know – but the prediction that the robots are coming is at least 60 years in the making. We keep making the same prediction – and sure, we’re closer to that than ever before, but also pretty far away.

“The more you work with AI, the more you understand that it’s very stupid in a sense. It doesn’t really understand what you’re saying. And those linguistic models, which are a booming thing right now, it doesn’t understand what you’re saying to it, what you’re typing to it. It understands a succession of symbols and it works according to those succession of symbols. We are very, very far away from actually replacing us human beings and the future of AI music is still further away because music is much much more than visual data.”

In all of this excitement and panic, we all seem to have forgotten that AI stands for artificial intelligence: artificially intelligent.

A lot of the exports of AI that you and I are seeing today are kind of like magic tricks. They’re a sleight of hand, an amusement ride, an oddity, and a brand new digital commodity.

31 Mar 2023

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