News on Campus
BACHS EMI CONCERTO
re computers approaching human-level
If there were any doubts in the audience at a series
prompted by some striking recent developments in artificial
intelligence, EMI was brought to dispel them. EMI (Experiments in
Musical Intelligence) is the most thought-provoking project in
artificial intelligence that I have ever come across, according to
Douglas Hofstadter, organizer of the event that was sponsored by the
Center for Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities. Hofstadter, a
professor of cognitive science at Indiana University, is a visiting
scholar at the Stanford-based center.
Invented by David Cope, a composer at the University of
California-Santa Cruz, EMI came to Stanford after beating composer Steve
Larson in a contest to create music more faithful to the style of Johann
Sebastian Bach. Three entries, one by Bach, one by Larson and one by
EMI, were submitted to an audience that mistakenly concluded that
Larsons piece was EMIs and that EMIs composition was Bachs.
But EMIs more well-matched competition was JAPE, a funny machine
presented to a panel of experts exploring the theory of humor and
whether computers are coming closer to understanding it. JAPE, a program
authored by Kim Binsted, can create puns that many find hilarious.
The Stanford symposium that brought world experts in different fields
to deliver talks on the degree to which computers have become genuinely
creative included two live concerts of EMIs music. EMIs efforts to
mimic the style of Beethoven were less successful. In any case, the
implication rejected by many composers and musicians is that musical
style may consist of just a collection of simple recipes and that
feelings and intent are not as important after all.
In his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach, which won a Pulitzer
Prize in 1980, Hofstadter speculated whether music would ever be
composed by an artificial