“It’s a Wednesday night in North East London and upstairs at the Vortex Jazz Club the machines are calling the shots. The human spectators are jiggling happily in their seats, and the musicians are undeniably flesh-and-blood, sweating and straining at their instruments. But the music itself is the product of electronic brains — trained to soak up the music of great artists and strain out new melodies.
This is “the first concert consisting almost entirely of music composed by artificial intelligence” says professor Geraint Wiggins of Queen Mary’s University at the beginning of the evening. In about a few minutes we’ll be listening to Medieval chants, Baroque chorales, and jazz and pop — all made by artificial intelligence with the help of computer scientists who programmed the evening’s “composers.” As Wiggins reads out a list of the contributors there’s an excited buzz in the room. The atmosphere is a little like a school recital; no surprise given that most of the audience members are the computer scientists themselves, keen to see how their progeny performs — as well as assess the competition.“