A music album called IAMAI, which released on August 21st, is the first that’s entirely composed by an artificial intelligence.
A New Kind of Composer
“Break Free” is the first sone released in a new album by Taryn Southern. The song, indeed, the entire album, features an artist known as Amper—but what looks like a typical collaboration between artists is actually much more than that.
Taryn is no stranger to the music and entertainment industry. She is a singer and digital storyteller who has amassed more than 500 million views on YouTube, and she has over 450 thousand subscribers. On the other hand, Amper is making his debut…except he’s (it’s?) not a person.
Amper is an artificially intelligent music composer, producer, and performer. The AI was developed by a team of professional musicians and technology experts, and it’s the the very first AI to compose and produced an entire music album. The album is called I AM AI, and the featured single is set to release on August 21, 2017.
Check out the song “Break Free” in the video below:
As film composer Drew Silverstein, one of Amper’s founders, explained to TechCrunch, Amper isn’t meant to act totally on its own, but was designed specifically to work in collaboration with human musicians: “One of our core beliefs as a company is that the future of music is going to be created in the collaboration between humans and AI. We want that collaborative experience to propel the creative process forward.”
That said, the team notes that, contrary to the other songs that have been released by AI composers, the chord structures and instrumentation of “Break Free” are entirely the work of Amper’s AI.
Not Just Music Production
Ultimately, Amper breaks the model followed by today’s music-making AIs. Usually, the original work done by the AI is largely reinterpreted by humans. This means that humans are really doing most of the legwork. As the team notes in their press release, “the process of releasing AI music has involved humans making signiﬁcant manual changes—including alteration to chords and melodies—to the AI notation.”
That’s not the case with Amper. As previously noted, the chord structures and instrumentation is purely Amper’s; it just works with manual inputs from the human artist when it comes to style and overall rhythm.
For example, an AI called Aiva has been taught to compose classical music, like how DeepBach was designed to create music inspired by Baroque artist Johann Sebastian Bach. With this in mind, the album is likely just the first step into a new era…an era in which humans will share artistry (and perhaps even compete creatively) with AI.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify what songs were made by Amper and rearranged by Taryn.
Humanity has a data storage problem: More data were created in the past 2 years than in all of preceding history. And that torrent of information may soon outstrip the ability of hard drives to capture it. Now, researchers report that they’ve come up with a new way to encode digital data in DNA to create the highest-density large-scale data storage scheme ever invented. Capable of storing 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) in a single gram of DNA, the system could, in principle, store every bit of datum ever recorded by humans in a container about the size and weight of a couple of pickup trucks. But whether the technology takes off may depend on its cost.
DNA has many advantages for storing digital data. It’s ultracompact, and it can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place. And as long as human societies are reading and writing DNA, they will be able to decode it. “DNA won’t degrade over time like cassette tapes and CDs, and it won’t become obsolete,” says Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist at Columbia University. And unlike other high-density approaches, such as manipulating individual atoms on a surface, new technologies can write and read large amounts of DNA at a time, allowing it to be scaled up.
Scientists have been storing digital data in DNA since 2012. That was when Harvard University geneticists George Church, Sri Kosuri, and colleagues encoded a 52,000-word book in thousands of snippets of DNA, using strands of DNA’s four-letter alphabet of A, G, T, and C to encode the 0s and 1s of the digitized file. Their particular encoding scheme was relatively inefficient, however, and could store only 1.28 petabytes per gram of DNA. Other approaches have done better. But none has been able to store more than half of what researchers think DNA can actually handle, about 1.8 bits of data per nucleotide of DNA. (The number isn’t 2 bits because of rare, but inevitable, DNA writing and reading errors.)
Erlich thought he could get closer to that limit. So he and Dina Zielinski, an associate scientist at the New York Genome Center, looked at the algorithms that were being used to encode and decode the data. They started with six files, including a full computer operating system, a computer virus, an 1895 French film called Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. They first converted the files into binary strings of 1s and 0s, compressed them into one master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code. They devised an algorithm called a DNA fountain, which randomly packaged the strings into so-called droplets, to which they added extra tags to help reassemble them in the proper order later. In all, the researchers generated a digital list of 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long.
They sent these as text files to Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco, California–based startup, which then synthesized the DNA strands. Two weeks later, Erlich and Zielinski received in the mail a vial with a speck of DNA encoding their files. To decode them, the pair used modern DNA sequencing technology. The sequences were fed into a computer, which translated the genetic code back into binary and used the tags to reassemble the six original files. The approach worked so well that the new files contained no errors, they report today in Science. They were also able to make a virtually unlimited number of error-free copies of their files through polymerase chain reaction, a standard DNA copying technique. What’s more, Erlich says, they were able to encode 1.6 bits of data per nucleotide, 60% better than any group had done before and 85% the theoretical limit.
“I love the work,” says Kosuri, who is now a biochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think this is essentially the definitive study that shows you can [store data in DNA] at scale.”
However, Kosuri and Erlich note the new approach isn’t ready for large-scale use yet. It cost $7000 to synthesize the 2 megabytes of data in the files, and another $2000 to read it. The cost is likely to come down over time, but it still has a long ways to go, Erlich says. And compared with other forms of data storage, writing and reading to DNA is relatively slow. So the new approach isn’t likely to fly if data are needed instantly, but it would be better suited for archival applications. Then again, who knows? Perhaps those giant Facebook and Amazon data centers will one day be replaced by a couple of pickup trucks of DNA.
I found this photograph one day and vowed to find out more about its origins. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information to fill in the gaps, but I believe there is an annual Biofashion show in Cali, Colombia. Designers make exciting creations composed only from plants, natural and recycled materials. Quite stunning!
I was happily surprised to hear from Dr. Michael Leach in Australia when he came across The STEAM Hub and sent us his compliments about our site. We rely on the internet so much these days that occasionally we forget how remarkable the technology is and the gifts that it brings. Thank you Dr. Leach for reaching out and sharing your love of STEAM with us. We are glad to meet you!
Dr. Leach is a self-described health researcher, number cruncher, poet and all-around STEAM advocate. It was kind of him to provide one of his science haiku’s to share with our readers.
Dedicated to all those who have worked at or supported science centers, especially the Discovery Science & Technology Centre, in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, here is Michael’s poem together with photos of a science Lego display from the University of South Australia and the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria.
The Year Up Program will be on the Glendale Community College campus next week on May 8th and May 9th inside the Student Union from 9 am – 1 pm.
- The program is for students 18-24 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
- Of low to moderate income and US citizen, permanent resident, or have employment authorization card to participate in program
- Must be available 5 days a week Mon-Fri for the full year of the program
- Have not obtained a bachelor’s degree
- Students can earn monthly stipend of up to $600 and up to 30 college credits.
- They will learn Business Operations or Computer Programming, and Professional Skills
- 6 month paid professional internship with career opportunities
- Begin a career making $32,000 a year while completing a degree
YEAR UP STUDENTS ARE TRAINED FOR INTERN ROLES IN:
- Cyber Security
- SharePoint Administration
- QA Testing
- Customer Support/Service Desk
- Network Administration Support
- Desktop Support
- Business Operation roles requiring Microsoft Office skills