Music, Internet & Prophecy
By Jacques Attali July 3, 2017
Artists feed themselves at all times with technological innovations; sometimes these are determinant and disrupt art. Especially when they come at the right time, like the apparently modest development in 1841, by the American painter John Goffe Rand, of the soft metal tube of paint, collapsible, hermetically closed with a clamp, which will enable artists to paint outside, leading thirty years later to the first impressionist exhibition.
Today, everybody talks, undiscerningly, about artificial intelligence. Without understanding anything about it, some see in it an absolute intelligence, able to free men from boring tasks and even to create works of art; others see in it a monstrous intelligence, which will distrust men and which, as soon as it can, will get rid of them.
Hence the urge, say some of them, to master it before it destroys us. And for others, at least, to decrypt what would be an “artistic intelligence”. And to use it to enhance the creative process.
AI already knows how to learn by experience, recognize faces, drive a car, play Go better than men, write a press review or compose a simple melody. Some people are using AI to predict the nature of works of art that the market would want to acquire, or to protect intellectual property by the interplay of AI and blockchain. Some also approach the reality and the complexity of artistic intelligence by the use of virtual reality in order to put ourselves in other person’s shoes, to see the world differently or to wander in the brain’s labyrinth.
But we are very far from seeing AI master what constitutes the basis of human artistic intelligence. For example, whereas a five-year-old child recognizes what is a dog once he saw one, thousands of attempts are needed for a device to learn how to recognize such an animal. And a lot more will be needed for AI to possibly be able to create original pieces of art.
Let’s check the facts: there is in our cortex about one hundred billion of neurons, all connected, and each of them connected by thousands of synapses; which makes billions and billions of connections. Excluding those which are elsewhere in our body. The main part of intelligence plays out in the mutual relations between the neurons and synapses. It is not in the ability to organize causalities, but to anticipate, by retroactive loops, later perceptions: a tennis player can’t send the ball back after a serve if he only trusts what he sees, a slalom skier doesn’t pass the gates if he doesn’t anticipate the movements of his body.
This anticipation is peculiar to the human creative intelligence. For example, it is an essential part of aesthetic feelings, as Francis Wolff demonstrates so well about music in his book “Why Music ?” (Fayard éd.).
Therefore, we are very far from seeing AI taking part in the creative process. By chance, by random and serendipity, pieces of art may appear for the inform matter. But to link that with an artistic conscience and process, more is to be found .
In the long run, AI may lead us to new avenues of creation, new continents of creativity, new dimensions of human means.
– Jacques Attali