Can Computers Be Creative?

Can artificial intelligence (AI) be used to create? In particular, can AI create movies or music?

I met two creators recently who think the answer is yes.

Jack Zhang, founder of Greenlight Essentials, has been developing the first feature film co-written by AI. Taking advantage of decades worth of movie data, Mr. Zhang and his team say they have been teaching a computer to recognize which plot combinations have the highest odds to draw in audiences. Their creative team then worked closely with the insights generated by the AI to turn these plot elements into a creative story.

The story they developed is a horror film called Impossible Things. The teaser trailer for the film has garnered nearly 2.3 million views on Facebook.

Taryn Southern is a recording artist and YouTuber. Her latest album, I AM AI, is the first album to be entirely composed and produced with AI.

For her single “Break Free,” Southern used an open source platform called Amper Music to create the stems. Here’s how it works. For each track, the artist plugs in genre, the instruments she wants to use, and beats per minute. In return, Amper’s software churns out disjointed verses that can be rearranged into a song, and layered beneath the artist’s vocals.

In a recent interview, Southern explained some of the limitations of using AI to compose her songs:

“What [the software] is really good at is composing and producing instrumentation, but it doesn’t yet understand song structure. It might give you a verse or the chorus and it’s up to me to stitch these pieces together so that it sounds like something familiar you would hear on the radio. Once I’m happy with the song, then I write the vocal melody and lyrics.”

At the end of the day, I believe we still have some technological advancement ahead of us before we, as humans, can truly say that AI is capable of creating at a world-class level, consistently. But as these two examples show, the software is already remarkably advanced and AI is making major strides every year. It’s only a matter of time before your favorite AI-created song or movie is accepting its Grammy or Oscar award.

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