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A.I. in Music Could Go Very Wrong (thoughts from an AI music proponent)

Bowling, Black Swans, and Terrence Mckenna

Imagine rolling a bowling ball down a mountain, intent on bowling a strike. Ten pins are set up at the bottom eagerly awaiting their one purpose in life, to be knocked down.

But nobody bothered to build a lane to make sure the ball stays somewhat in control so that the worst case is merely a gutterball. Remember, we’re launching a bowling ball down a mountain! This thing is going to smash through rocks, splinter trees, and take out the legs of confused hikers.

And that’s just the damage it could do along the way, never mind the crowds of curious onlookers at the bottom, forming on either side of the pins. If we’re a little off-target, they get clobbered.

We’re standing at the top with little more than a handful of hope to keep this thing on course.

If our goal was to simply create Joker-style chaos and enjoy the show, ok — solid plan. But, we’re trying to bowl a strike, right?

Ok, let’s steer this longwinded metaphor back to A.I. …

The approach many are taking with A.I. is starting to feel like launching a bowling ball down a mountain and just hoping it hits the pins.

Most people in both pro and anti-generative A.I. camps agree that the preservation of the human element in the arts is important.

I personally believe in that idea and most of the people I talk to in and around A.I. believe in it too.

But too much of what I see (tools and the way people are using them) is steering us toward the opposite, not all of it (hedgers gotta hedge), just too much for comfort.

A.I. has the potential to be a powerful layer in human-created art and music. In music specifically, it will probably become the most, or one of the most (hedgers gotta…) influential “instruments” in the history of music.

That’s why I still believe A.I. is going to empower artists to become more creative than ever before.

Maybe it’s the catastrophizer in us all.

Maybe it’s our traditional sides.

But a lot of people are seeing any equally possible path forward that reduces the human element in art to little more than button pushers. I have to admit, I see that possibility too and it scares me.

We are already seeing a new era of creativity led by human artists leveraging A.I. tools to make beautiful art. It will be a tragedy if those artists end up in a small underappreciated niche in an otherwise fully-automated dystopian art landscape.

(I know, I just haaaaaad to go and throw in that word — dystopian.)

Terrence Mckenna said, “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”

Everyone is hurling themselves into the abyss hoping a featherbed breaks their fall.

But what of the so-called Black Swan events? What if this time we need to throw our own featherbeds into the abyss before we leap?

Or, to put it in a less profound way, we’ve got plenty of people blindly rolling bowling balls down a mountain hoping to hit some pins.

Is anyone building the lanes?

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