Art Will be Safe From “AI”

There is one qualifying feature which makes humans capable of music, conversation, and sales: play.

For a machine to be equally skilled at play (based on a human’s perception) the machine would have to be able to pass the Turing test. It must be able to introduce expectations and break them. To do this, the computer must have an intuition for how a human will react to its output, and it must be able behave deceptively (though not maliciously so).

The best example of this need comes from comedy, narrative prose, and music. For how can one make tell a good joke without a hidden motive? Explaining a joke kills it. For an AI joke to be funny, the AI must be good at deception.

I’m not saying that this is impossible. I am, however, suggesting that there are four meta-skills that must be learned for good comedy to occur, and that the acquirement of these skills would mean that a machine is Turing capable:

  1. Language skills equal to or greater than that of a human’s.
  2. Deception skills equal to or greater than that of a human’s.
  3. Emotional intelligence and assessment equal to or greater than that of a human’s.
  4. A desire to do and create things, just because [the reward function tells me to].

The above four skills are clearly required for good comedy and narrative prose, but they are also required for musical competency if one chooses to map language skills from English to our 12-tone musical scale. And, if a machine can do all of this, how would it be distinguished by humans?

Sure, AI can already create music that sounds nice. But nice is a huge distance from awe-inspiring and mind blowing. Our current methods can produce pleasant elevator music, but they will never produce the next Jimi Hendrix. Consequently, I think it will be a while until an auto-generated song makes me say “damn”.

With that said, I look forward to being wrong.