Critical Response 3: Message in a Bottle

My area of study within Computer Science is specifically on machine learning and artificial intelligence. I have previously taken many ML and AI classes and worked on research in these fields. In these past experiences, I was concerned with the theoretical and technical details of how to design and train an ML model. My goals were to achieve or surpass established state-of-the-art benchmarks. How could my ML models be better? How should I tune my model layers? Where could I get more data? These were the types of questions that I was always trying to ask and answer. However, taking this class has made me take a step back and consider why I am working in this field and what this is all for. Thinking about all this has led me to have more questions than answers, but one of the greatest takeaways I have is that AI is “astoundingly competent,” but humans are astounding.

After a quarter of seeing and experience the sheer range of creativity that has been produced from this class, I feel secure in knowing that AI is a long way away from ever achieving anything close to the projects that were created for this class. Everyone started from the same basic idea, yet they all went in wildly different and creative directions that I could never have imagined. The funny thing is that I’ve learned that AI doesn’t necessarily have to ever achieve this. In class was the first time I had heard of the Turing trap, and I find that it should guide how we think about the AI-human relationship. The tools that we’ve used and the projects that we’ve created are an example of how the goal of AI does not have to be to replace humans. Instead, humans can work together with AI towards a common goal. While AI can generate music and art, what is more important is how we use these tools. For example, with the similarity search, that alone is uninteresting. However, when this is paired with human creativity to create an audio mosaic, it suddenly becomes infinitely more interesting and meaningful.

Advances in ML and AI are inevitable. There will always be researchers and scientists pushing the boundaries of what is possible. What can push AI to be truly astounding and not just “astoundingly competent” is the human touch. MusicLM or similar projects could never make me feel what I felt watching the projects of the other students in this class. Simple, basic ML concepts were used to create everything from lawful good to chaotic evil. They were hilarious and wild to soothing and thoughtful. There is nothing to fear from AI because human ingenuity and creativity knows no bounds. No matter how well-trained the model, it’s not just about adding more layers or training with more time and data. There is something fundamentally human in art and music that AI cannot reach.

AI Artwork
Generated with Midjourney using the prompt, message in a bottle, cute, simple, anime style.