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Military Teaching Computers to Improvise Jazz

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by Aaron Krumins, ExtremeTech

Cinema of late has become littered with themes related to artificial intelligence, but arguably one of the most provocative moments from this genre comes in the movie Her when the intelligent OS begins composing music in its spare time. Music has long been used as something of a gold standard in reference to culture and creativity, showcasing the best and brightest aspects of the human intellect.

Now The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the US military, would seem to be robbing humanity of this last emblem of intellectual singularity by teaching an artificial intelligence system to play jazz.

At first blush, DARPA and jazz music seem like odd bedfellows — and one is tempted to ask what mandate the military has for spending taxpayer dollars teaching a computer to play jazz. Is this a case of government spending run amok? But as often happens with DARPA, the seemingly innocent headline belies more insidious intentions. The first step in unpacking what might be DARPA’s real motivations behind this project is to ask, why jazz, why not teach the computer to play classical music, or reggae for that matter?

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© 2015 Ziff Davis LLC PCMag Digital Group

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