Critical Response #3: "Message in a Bottle"

Max Jardetzky
MUSIC 356 (Winter 2023)
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Dear Reader,

Truthfully, I'm quite hesitant of the ongoing social trend by which humans are automating their own God-given creative processes. While I'm grateful to have used ChatGPT to write this response (with many edits), I'm also aware of the potential dangers that arise from reinforcing its place in my world. AI tools may limit or take over the dimensions of our human expression if not properly managed. I believe it's important to deeply probe questions about the role of AI in creative processes, and whether it is here to help or hinder us.

In my Music and AI class, I had the opportunity to use the Wekinator application for interactive machine learning and the ChucK programming language to create wonderful tools of musical expression. This experience gave me great joy and allowed me to explore the intersection of technology and creativity. It was exciting to witness how AI can enhance, rather than replace, human expression in musical performance.

However, I'm also aware of the ethical concerns that come with the use of AI in creative processes. As AI systems become more complex and opaque, it becomes difficult to determine their ethical boundaries and which members of society may be adversely impacted by these algorithms. I believe it's important for us to continually (re)evaluate the impact of AI on society and to engage in open discussions about the merits and detriments of AI systems. We artful designers love feedback loops, especially with humans in them, not as spectators.

I'm grateful to have a professor like Ge Wang, who has created a space for us to engage with these important questions without needing to find all the answers. In class one day, Ge said roughly that the questions that are hard to answer are eternal, lasting beyond their immediate context and providing a lens for us to help shape our future. No wonder we still talk about Aristotle! Eudaimonia (flourishing) is a concept that knows no time and place, only human manifestation. Locating such moral quandaries gave us space to think deeply and critically about the role of AI in creative processes and its potential and immediate impact on society. I believe that the wonderful cohort of my classmates will go out and shape the world in a more positive direction just for having been in this course.

As a computer science major at Stanford, I'm outwardly concerned with the influence of capitalism in the tech industry as it applies to the proliferation of automation and AI. The emphasis on quantitative metrics and growth often overlooks the qualitative impacts on people. Personally, I'm more interested in the computer systems track that involves lower-level operating systems constructs, as opposed to the artificial intelligence track that I believe would shove me into a nebulous world. I believe that no matter how prominent language models and software automation get, there will always be a place for systems programmers who can make artful tools.

Overall, my experience in the Music and AI class has revealed to me the potential of AI to shape creative processes, but it has equally revealed the ethical concerns that come with its use. I believe that it's important for us to engage in open and honest discussions about the role of AI in society and not just consider, but challenge its impact on all members of society.

Max (and ChatGPT)

Bonus (ran OpenAI's AI text classifier on my response):