Chapter 5: Interface Design


From this week’s reading I am responding to page 277 of Artful Design “Aesthetics is Not a Problem to be Solved” which discusses how design and technology should not hold the sole purpose of generating a result that solves a problem. Furthermore, the process and experience of design and technology hold just as much weight as the result.  


Chapter 5 discusses many different instrument interfaces where the intention was not to solve any problems, but to leverage how expressive technique could map to musical parameters for a different kind of control. There was no main problem to solve in creating these interfaces. The most striking sentence on page 277: “the day that such a premise gives us everything we would want is the day we cease to be human.” I have often thought about what role artificial intelligence/machine learning has for art and music. I have heard people throw out the idea that some day we will have computers writing music just as good as we do, with near perfect human-like articulation. I completely disagreed–and I wasn’t sure if it was an emotional reaction because their idea of how the world would be makes my current existence a bit obsolete, or if I really thought that it was impossible for technology to do what humans do, especially in art. Perhaps a little bit of both. This page articulates the thoughts I held in deeper conversations surrounding this. I asked my friends what value would you even get out of music completely written and generated by computers with no human involvement besides building the machine itself? There is no problem in music or art that we need to solve by having computers do it all. Connecting this with Principle 5.19: “Interfaces Should Extend Us (And Not Replace Us)”, I truly believe that interface design with humans remaining in the loop is a beautiful thing, not to be rejected, and technology should not be feared…I like to think that I have enough faith in people in the present and in the future to hold onto their humanity in whatever circumstance. Being a human necessitates creating art. Music is more than just passively experiencing an auditory stimulus with articulation and dynamics. I don’t think AI imitating the style of Chopin will ever serve a significant purpose for me or the world. The use case for this is me sitting at my computer, listening, and being in awe of where technology is going. If I wanted to experience Chopin, I would experience it watching a human who probably has had pain carved deep into their soul articulate it for me on the piano