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SpeedNinja

Nigel John Stanford (Automatica)

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So... he's not really a drummer, but he does program some drums.  Let's be honest.  A lot of what we hear in modern music is programmed, or a live drummer recorded, digitized, looped and then reprogrammed.  So while the physical playing technique might not be there, the writing and understanding of the instruments in relation to each other are.  (Side note: I have a friend with cerebral palsy.  He used to create a lot of electronic music, EDM or whatever you want to call it.  He did it all by ear.  Chords, beats, harmonies, everything by ear, clicking one note at a time until he found the right one.  Occasionally he would have musician friends come over and teach him theory, chords and what human limitations are in playing many of these instruments.)

Now this idea kind of goes backwards from programming everything in some software to make sounds and programs software to move machines to play physical instruments.  A lot of musicians would say that electronic music isn't really music because nobody is playing it on real instruments.  This flips that on its head, especially if you consider the advances in AI.  The music video brings up this idea as the Kuka robot arms seemingly take over and do whatever they want.

So would you consider this guy to be a drummer after he programmed robot arms to play acoustic (minus the electric bass pad) drums?  If an AI software developed a program for robots to physically play, would it be considered a drummer?  In my opinion, it's kind of hard to say no.

 

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I always believed Animusic would become reality someday, although this is all CGI, too, but, I do believe it isn't far away.

I didn't watch the second one yet but, I saw a robotic kick pad in action on the first one. Did I misunderstand what you were saying?

As far as your question, I do not believe a programmed robot would be a drummer, anymore than an old fashioned player piano is a pianist, or a  programmed robotic piano player would be a pianist. If it has to be programmed by a human, the human is the musician. I realize someone can program an entire symphony with a mouse and a lot of time clicking, even if they cannot actually, physically play an instrument. And computers may be able to compose a symphony when programmed to do so but, it has yet to be seen that the computer can compose beyond what is put into it. It would not be able to invent a new mode, or harmonic interplay, etc.

Despite Hollywood's portrayals I really do not believe AI is possible, as far as self-realization and what makes a human, human. You can program a robot, or someday will, to ply a drum solo based on what is programmed into it for a skill set - rudiments, dynamics to some degree, melodic structure, certainly speed, at some point but, if it is always working off of programming, no matter what it does, physically, it would never be a drummer emotionally or intuitively.

I guess that would be my definition of a musician - the aspects of emotion, intuition, imagination, ability to innovate, just the ability to listen and react. I do not see a robot ever having that. Which is not to say someday computers and robots may put human musicians playing live out of business altogether. They may, and the programmers will do it all. I won't live to see it but, someday it will happen.

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I've been loosely following some AI experiments that have been publicly released on social media sites the past few years.  They do learn.  And when people know that the AI is there to learn, they teach it some messed up stuff.  Almost all of them have been shut down quickly for becoming genocidal in a matter of hours.  Engineers tried to fix and re-release one (I forget its name), but had to shut it down again quickly.  You could say it's "mind" was made up already.  It's pretty disturbing actually.

Music can be mathematically modeled.  "Pleasant" sound parameters can be pre-programmed and the software can run algorithms to explore all possibilities.  It's all pattern recognition, which is what human musicians do as they play.  Sure, the AI might not look at a bird sitting in the rain and become inspired to write a song about it, but modern pop music should be fairly easy for a program to "write" given the simplicity of it, and then throw in lyrics written around popular word usage on the internet.  Even if it's not creating anything on its own, you could walk up to a machine and verbally tell it what to play like you would a student or band mate.  That alone would be amazing.

I'm not saying we'll see this stuff in the next 5 years, but I don't think it's more than 50 years away until we are interacting with somewhat autonomous software on a regular basis.  A lot of this technology already exists.  People/companies just need to put all their individual work together and work out the kinks.  Google, Apple and Microsoft all own a lot of these technologies already.  If you have one of the last three generation Android or iProducts, then you're already interacting with a lot of this stuff.  I've turned as much of it off as I could on my Windows 10 machines.  Alexa, Echo or whatever else that's similar are also linked to some intense software.  It's mostly passive, observational or reactionary right now, but it will become more active soon.  Especially if it helps companies sell you things.  The ability to learn us, and then imitate us, will increase exponentially.

4 hours ago, DiehardDIYer said:

I always believed Animusic would become reality someday, although this is all CGI, too, but, I do believe it isn't far away.

I didn't watch the second one yet but, I saw a robotic kick pad in action on the first one. Did I misunderstand what you were saying?

The second video is just a short clip of the Kuka robots playing the basic drum beat for testing.  They used a Roland kick pad instead of the bass drum, for whatever reason, but the snare and hi-hats were mic'ed.  There are similar test videos for the other instruments.  Yes, the music video is heavily edited, but the machines are playing the instruments.  They probably only had those three to work with, so they most likely re-used them for all the other instruments filmed in front of a green screen and then put it all together digitally.  There have been a lot of different "fun" uses for these robots, not just for music, going on for a while now.  It helps the manufacturers with advertising as well as pushing the limits of their machines and software.  The more limits they can find, the more abilities they can add.  The more abilities they can add, the more machines they can sell, and not just for manufacturing or assembly lines.

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In the last couple years I have watched and read stuff about Transhumanism that seems more dark and disturbing than AI. I just question the possibility of a Bicentennial Man.

As far as music programming, imagine what kind of lyrics could be written when the computer spits out things that rhyme, using an entire dictionary, even dictionaries from other languages.

Do you remember that commercial for an investment company or something; Ringo using some words that rhymed as the band paused to think about something? Hilarious commercial but, as he was rhyming three or four syllable words, I began to wonder what would happen if if a dictionary were actually used in a program designed to write western lyrics.

Here's the thing with AI. Nobody can define "love," and its activity in the human mind and into the human experience. People try but, people fail because it is something beyond human understanding in its fullest sense. If man cannot even truly define it, he certainly cannot program it into a computer. All he can program are basic causes and effects, so, why wouldn't a robot go into destruct mode right off the bat? You cannot program love, you can only experience it, as a human. You can program cause to effect, based on historic examples and parameters. Seems to me a robot going into self-reservation mode and ultimately wiping out humans around it is the only logical direction you can go. So, you have to program the computer to not hurt humans but, what about robots used for law enforcement, as we are seeing have been developed in Japan? Now you have to program criminal intent. That would be difficult enough. Just the same, the computer is being programmed to watch out for negative action within programmed parameters, and just dismiss positive action as non-offensive. What a mess that could turn into. A computer cannot have a gut reaction, a feeling something bad is happening or about to happen. You cannot program intuition, as far as I understand it. You can only program as many cause to effect scenarios as you can think of. Or write a program to invent some, but even then it is still all the programmer. Your robot can never be better than the information available, can it?

A robot will never play ghost notes with any real dynamic articulation. You could program infinitesimal variations into it and how they are used, etc but, how can a robot ever feel the time and place in music to do something? Never happen. Although, I agree, with basic top 40, not something that requires a lot of deftness in stroking patterns. So, for pop music as it continues to exist, robot suits and bands could run the industry.

 

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You also need to take into consideration who is doing the programming.  The people who are smart enough and capable of programming these machines are more robot-like in their emotions and thoughts than other people.  (You kind of make that point.)  It's not that the machines cannot be programmed.  It's more that the programmers do not know how to pick up on and express these things.  It will most likely be figured out by sensors and probes which read and measure things that we intuitively pick up on or notice without consciously thinking about them.

If you're expecting AI to be an exact human duplicate, then you have the wrong end goal.  It never will be human, because it's not human.  Just like different primates have different levels or styles of intelligence.  Raccoons are in a league of their own, and their cognitive abilities range from area to area, a lot like humans, but still different.  It's AI, not HI.  Even if it was "Human Intelligence", then which humans do we copy?  Lots of variation there.  The idea is to set up something that recognizes patterns in its environment, reacts to them and adjusts its behavior accordingly.  Every living thing does that.  Some animals eat their young or murder relatives, humans included.  Would an AI do the same thing?  Nature suggest it's more likely than not.  That's not a failure in programming, or a limit in programming.  That's just how things are.  You can program all sorts of things into it, but it will work with the information available to it, just like humans have always done.  Also, do not pretend that humans aren't programmed how to think, act or feel by other humans already.  It's in the "news", advertisements, song lyrics, entertainment television shows... hell, it's even been baked into food recipes.  We're all constantly being manipulated.

You could absolutely program ghost notes as its own function based on auditory input from surrounding sounds to pick up patterns an rhythm, with an override function for the back beat.  That type of sensory input is already used in voice recognition software.  Also, keep in mind that a lot of drummers figure out one way to do something and that becomes their "sound."  Will every robot program be great?  Probably not.  Is every human drummer great?  Nope.  Once in a while someone, or something, unique and pleasant pops up and that's who we all flock to.  They found their sound by trying to do something they saw or heard somewhere and usually not accomplishing exactly what they were going for, but people hear it and demand to keep hearing it, so the drummer keeps playing it until the next one comes along.  There's no reason a program couldn't accidentally find a pattern that people like by mimicking other sound input.  Again, it wouldn't be a human replacement, because it's not human.  It's something else, but it can behave similarly to a human.

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When AI is mentioned the hard, cold definition is not generally the thought of the hearer:

Definition of artificial intelligence

1 : a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers
2 : the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior
 
Because of the programming you mention, Hollywood has the lion's share of creating what AI means - machines that ultimately will behave like humans.
 
The Las Vegas event shows a great deal of intelligent behavior. The on-going cover-up also shows a great deal of intelligence, maybe less so, seeing how quickly it has been uncovered. The negative side of intelligence, or intelligence used for negative purposes gets the most attention when it comes to AI, as in the movies. That really is a statement on how humanity sees it self at present. We seem a long way from Rosy, on the Jetson's. Most here may not even know who Rosy is. I'm definitely dating myself.
 
I believe, like the videos show, you can make robots that will play pre-programmed movements on musical instruments and the time may come when both the instrument and the music will combine from the same unit, like Animusic. We have Roy Wooten, Futureman, now.
 
I just question how "intelligence" will translate into the "emotion" of music. I do not see it happening. Simple music, basic rock, or simple time keeping patterns in any genre, yes. Animusic does their own version of Pictures at an Exhibition. Carl Palmer would be pleased. Robots programmed to play straight time movements seems different than what I think of within the framework of AI.
 
"In computer science AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal.[1] Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".[2] 
 
That's from the wiki article on AI.
 
Obviously you would have the perfect click track in a robotic drummer. A lot of drummers, myself included, learned the Moeller technique by playing and developing a natural way to play more efficiently, quickly, and expressively, without ever hearing of Sanford Moeller or Jim Chapin. I have my doubts if a robot could follow that same path. That is the path of AI, is it not? Self-awareness and figuring things out without being programmed?
 
Your original question was about calling a robot a drummer. It really depends on a definition of "drummer." A time keeper? Then, certainly, in simple signatures, playing simple stroke patterns, in popular music, a robot could be a robotic drummer.
 
The issue is, if you placed every single possible drum beat, every performance by every recorded drummer into a computer, will a robot have the cognizance to employ it if a music score is placed in front of it, and the mechanics are up to the task? IDK. I'd have to see it to believe it could be done.
 
But, you raise a good question. It really goes to the heart of everything - medicine, construction, finances, sports, relationships, everything physically done from ascertaining and using information. Can robots do it all, eventually?
 
This will become a huge religious issue at some point. It already is an issue but, as this progresses, if it progresses to levels people feel alarmed about, Hollywood becomes reality. I'm glad it won't happen in my lifetime.
 

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Rosy was the best, although I'm more of a Cortana guy myself (Halo video game series).  And the religion comment reminded me of Futurama.

The Roborace DevBots learn and memorize race tracks, driving faster each lap, just like a human driver, without the occasional mistakes.  We've come a long way from the chess playing robots in the 1990s.

It's important not to give humans too much credit.  We all notice patterns and react to them.  Some are better than others at noticing patterns, and some react better to them than others.  Computers can recognize patterns easily, so the "magic" would be in their reaction to the patterns.  Easy enough for a race car: go with whatever decreases lap times.  Exactly what a human would do.  Would a race car get to the point where it becomes frustrated with another car and hit it or spin it out like a human would, or coldly do the best it can while being held back?  That would partially depend on programming and communications.  If the cars can talk and the slower car in front knows the car behind it is capable of being faster, it could allow a pass.  What if there's no "give up" mode?  Human drivers would do everything they can to hold up a faster car behind them (not talking about lapped cars or a slower series on the same track).  Now it comes down to the programming in the faster car in second place.  Is it forbidden from bumping the other car?  If not, what's to stop it from deciding that clearing the path ahead is the best way to decrease its overall time?  Sure, there are rules to deter that for humans racing, outside of accidents.  Do drivers always follow it like they should?  Nope.  What's to say certain programs wouldn't have a fault too?  What's the difference in a machine not following its code programming and a human not following its moral programming?  How is being told not to do something different if it's coming from a parent/government than a programmer?

As for feeling in general in music, art or whatever else... Most art I look at inspires an emotion called boredom.  A lot of music does too, as well as annoyance.  I'm not programmed to get anything out of those.  No matter how hard you try, I'm not going to like what I don't like.  How is that different from various robots responding to specific things?

I'm not taking a "Oh, I saw this in a movie once so it's going to happen." kind of guy.  I usually pick them apart for their inaccuracies.  I also recognize that a lot of things in movies, while currently inaccurate, often inspire people to make them real, and sometimes better than originally imagined.  Even if robots/AI only play pop music in the future, wouldn't you feel better knowing that humans didn't waste their time making it?

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43 minutes ago, SpeedNinja said:

Even if robots/AI only play pop music in the future, wouldn't you feel better knowing that humans didn't waste their time making it?

That's a very interesting question. It has been said the big band era featured the most popular music and the best musicians (although classical musicians would probably argue that). There has not been another era like it. 70's prog and fusion came as close as you can get and fusion was attached to jazz.

If robots played popular genre and it gave musicians an open door to produce top notch stuff again, sure. On the other hand just because modern pop music does nothing for me, people enjoy it because it is simple. It doesn't take any thought to digest. If people want to play it, so be it. Country is not my thing and here in Texas it's 90% of what exists.  It tells a story and millions love it. What can you say? At the same time, for me, Cream was not a pop band and yet look at what it was - enormously popular. The music back then breathed, it had a life to it. Pop music stretching out had life to it: the Allman Bros, The Doobies, early Chicago, so many popular bands in multiple genres that had an organic nature and adventurous spirit. Click tracks took a lot of that away. Programming killed a lot of it. Most of it. Seems to me, as much as I enjoy the whole Animusic thing it will never be what organic music is, played by humans. It will always be rigid and "perfect." THAT is boring for me. If that is all that was I'd be annoyed with that. Fifty years from now ... who knows? It might be all robots. Robots in music, robots in hospitals, robots racing cars, robots as the cars, airplanes, trains, robots in sports, everything.

No thanks. I'm glad I'll be gone.

Edited by DiehardDIYer

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I don't disagree with you on music being too "perfect."  It does become very dry.  Some metal bands overused it in the early 2000s.  I couldn't get into them because of it.  This reminds me of a problem a lot of people had with certain motorcycles, specifically the Japanese cruisers.  Guys who bought a cruiser wanted that traditional Harley Davidson "roughness" to the idle, so the Japanese companies programmed their engines to backfire, misfire or bog down occasionally.

Also, for the sake of clarification: I know "pop" means popular music, at least originally.  I'm using it in this thread to reference the industry manufactured mass audience stuff, mostly from the late 1980s and on. (And yes, country pop sucks just as much as the other kinds.)  Pop kind of became its own genre around then, not just what was popular.

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I came upon an interesting article. This is from the article:

NOT so long ago, mastering the ancient Chinese game of Go was beyond the reach of artificial intelligence. But then AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s AI player, started to leave even the best human opponents in the dust. Yet even this world-beating AI needed humans to learn from. Then, on Wednesday, DeepMind’s new version ditched people altogether.

AlphaGo Zero has surpassed its predecessor’s abilities, bypassing AI’s traditional method of learning games, which involves watching thousands of hours of human play. Instead, it simply starts playing at random, honing its skills by repeatedly playing against itself. Three days and 4.9 million such games later, the result is the world’s best Go-playing AI.

“It’s more powerful than previous approaches because we’ve removed the constraints of human knowledge,” says David Silver, the lead researcher for AlphaGo.

“Humankind has accumulated Go knowledge from millions of games played over thousands of years,” the authors write in their paper. “In the space of a few days… AlphaGo Zero was able to rediscover much of this Go knowledge, as well as novel strategies that provide new insights into the oldest of games.”

So, if you programmed a robot, with mechanical facility like human hands and feet (a loooong way off), etc., after watching and listening to hundreds of thousands of hours of drumming from all available media, programming every rudiment, and allowing it to create new ones, even, could you have, literally, the world's greatest drummer? It might seem so but, then the article places this before readers:

Yet there are drawbacks too. For an AI to learn by itself, it needs to be programmed with the rules of the world it inhabits. That works for worlds with clear and simple rules, but would quickly become impossible for more complicated tasks like driving.

Even in cases for which the rules are clear, AlphaGo Zero’s abilities may not transfer. Although Go is a challenging game, it still has many attributes that tailor it to conquest by AI systems.

So although DeepMind has now created the world’s best Go player twice, it will have a tougher task proving that the same approach can be useful beyond board games. “In 10 years, I hope that these kinds of algorithms will be routinely advancing the frontiers of scientific research,” says Hassabis.

So, when it comes to knowledge and basic movement, you succeed. Drumming is a such an enormously tactile activity, it would seem impossible to be able to have AI understand the nuances of striking a drum or cymbal in the moment as music moves along.

Like Speedy says, with latter 20th century to current music and beyond there's already non-human, multi-array percussion on recordings. Snare, bass, hats, crash stuff. I can see AI easily navigating that. How it would or could navigate waters of more involved, complicated genres, like jazz, fusion, prog, etc, is another matter. Even with simple genre you can have places where the human drummer uses experience and imagination to place notes unconventionally. I suppose you can have a trial and error thing with a robot but, then it's a matter of time, and time is money in a studio setting.

Of course, this is from a drummer's perspective. Most people, even other musicians, don't really care what a drummer can do as long as time skills are good. The drummer is the easiest thing to replace, obviously, as it has already been done.

I can see a time when all musicians are replaced by robots playing just keyboard-type instruments. One-man-band stuff.  An entire symphony from one device, composed and played in real time. Sad, really.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23631484-000-alphagos-ai-upgrade-gets-round-the-need-for-human-input/

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I haven't heard of that particular experiment, but not surprising results at all.

4 hours ago, DiehardDIYer said:

I can see a time when all musicians are replaced by robots playing just keyboard-type instruments. One-man-band stuff.  An entire symphony from one device, composed and played in real time. Sad, really.

This would not be anything new.  I've posted Wintergatan's Marble Machine and Marble Machine X here before.  He's been giving demonstrations of similar instruments in the museum.  Yes, they're more mechanical and analog and not digital, but the same concepts are applied.  I don't have anything against one-man-bands or automated/programmed music.  People can be very difficult to work with, especially musicians.  Why hold yourself back when you are capable and creative enough to make all the music yourself?  Instead of giving musicians charts or chords to follow as a base for improvisation, we would just be giving machines/computers the charts and chords.

Here's the play list from the museum:

 

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