AI Music Not So Fast

Day 114 Week 17 Q2 Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The tools we have available to us today are truly mind-boggling.  This morning I attempted to use artificial intelligence to make some music. It almost worked. I could get bits and pieces of satisfactory things but not glue them all together. I say this not to condemn AI artistically, as there is great potential. Learning new processes takes time and effort to integrate them into satisfactory results. To expect instant tool expertise is silly.

I remember my first attempts to play chess with computers. At first, I won most of the time, then some of the time, then rarely, and finally not at all. It did not take too long for this to happen, but it took years, not minutes.  AI is improving so rapidly that the tools themselves are already good enough; I cannot yet wield them. I will not have to wait for the tools to improve this time. I need to get better.

And this does take time, and of course, there is an opportunity cost.  Does it make sense to learn these new tools or to continue to compose and play music using the methods I already am fluent in? Well, as in all things, it depends. Can I get professional results before mastering the new technology? Not, of course not. Can I get on the learning curve where I can estimate how long it will take to get there? Definitely. Is this worthwhile? For sure. Because we are sharing the world with new entities, and I want to know who my neighbors are.

Even though the results were unimpressive, I feel like the kid has talent, which can be interpreted into some workflows, perhaps mine. We will see. The question is, are you more about the results or the process? Or is the process part of the results? It depends on how you derive meaning in your life. Are results what matters in the arts? Or is it the act of creating that matters more? It depends on who you are. If you are a creative outlier, some of your meaning likely comes from the act of creating.

Is using AI satisfying? Is delegating as satisfying as doing something yourself? Do you want to delegate consumption? Probably not, so why would you want to delegate creation?  Would you like to delegate being in a relationship with another being to someone else, or is the interaction of the relationship what matters the most?  

If you are an artist, the universe impinges on you, and you need to respond. Can you tell your friend to respond? Or a computer to respond? Will that feel as meaningful?  I will continue to create and emit and am completely unconcerned about competition from other people or machines because I create things because I want to. Not to get results. 

I will, however, find ways to integrate AI to permit me to create and emit on a higher level than I can unassisted. It is not a competitor but a collaborator. A tiny percentage of artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, composers and authors earn their living only from creating. Most derive some of their income from teaching or adapting to commercial applications of their skills. 

If you are a creative outlier, you already have this problem. AI does not change this. It is equally likely to help you as it is to harm you. It all depends upon your attitude. This will be upsetting if you are a purist and want to go backward in time. If the future seems exciting, it might be extremely invigorating.  It is not the AI or any tool that makes the difference, it is your attitude, for each of us sees the world as we are.

Are you a toolmaker, a tool user, a tool avoider or perhaps all three? As with almost everything else, it is context-dependent. 

To my musicians friends I say – AI Music Not So Fast