Jamming with the Robot – what happens when machine learning makes you feel things?

Shimon is a robot. His makers at Georgia Tech have adapted him to learn about different kinds of genres of music. What’s a robot do with that kind of information?

Write lyrics and play music. Professor Gil Weinberg gives Shimon the theme, and Shimon composes lyrics and suggests melodies. This comes from the combination of deep learning and semantic knowledge. They’ve taught this robot that ‘storm’ is related to words around ‘rain’, for example. It can then come up with more rain-related words and build lyrics.

That may not sound like much, but it’s not dissimilar to the sorts of learning that humans do. Researches that have played instruments alongside Shimon comment that it’s about the same as jamming with another human musician.

The professors at Georgia Tech hope to start scheduling Shimon for gigs. I’d pay to see it.

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