March 1st, 2010

Petit Prince

Triumph of the Cyborg Composer

David Cope's algorithmic compositions rival the beauty of music by human composers and have passed the musical equivalent of the Turing Test (listeners cannot determine which music is human-composed). They herald the future of a new kind of musical creation: armies of computers composing (or helping people compose) original scores, he believes. But some -- especially composers -- are threatened by the ability of artificial creativity programs to compose works fast that are good and that the audience likes. Undeterred, Cope thinks humans are actually more robotic than machines. "The question," Cope says, "isn't whether computers have a soul, but whether humans have a soul."