Its true! Artificial Intelligence is making inroads even into the arts! And much of the credit for that goes to a man by the name of Ray Kurzweil. He is by far the biggest name in Artificial Intelligence as it relates to the arts in the past twenty years. In 1965, at the age of 16, Ray appeared on the TV show “I’ve Got A Secret” and played a song on a piano. His secret was that the year before, be built a computer that composed the original song he just played.
In 1978 he built another computer that recognized written characters in any font and could read a book out loud. His “reading machine” gave blind people the ability to read books without the use of brail and was praised the world over. He developed his Kurzweil keyboards as a challenge by Stevie Wonder, the well-known blind American musician. Stevie Wonder had used Kurzweil’s reading machine, and he asked Kurzweil to create a keyboard that would use acoustic sound coupled with electronic sound modification. It took the brilliant sounds of an orchestra or a grand piano and allowed the sounds to be layered or put in different tracks. For twenty years, Kurzweil’s AI keyboards have been the top of the line for both casual and professional keyboardists.
Kurzweil has also helped develop AARON, a computer program that generates artwork. The pictures are abstract, but they are generated entirely by the computer. Originally developed in 1973 by Harold Cohen, AARON draws people, plants, pots, and abstract designs that have hung in famous art museums for thirty years. It knows the basics of drawing human and plant forms, and it can use variables like size and thickness to create individual images. It can also color these images in aesthetically pleasing ways. Cohen’s next project is to make AARON able to improve itself without outside help. This would be exemplify Minsky’s 6th level of thought so it will be interesting to see if it can be done successfully.
See also: The Act of Creation (Poetry)