Artificial intelligence has come a long way. Already, AI can outperform humans in a variety of tasks which were once thought to be impossible for a machine to master. Aside from dominating games and other tasks which require complex decision-making, AI systems are learning how to perform creative tasks like composing pop songs or writing horror fiction. Two AI researchers have taken those two newfound skills and somewhat combined them, creating an AI algorithm that composes non-stop black metal and livestreams it straight to YouTube. If this is the future of music, I’m pretty stoked.
The black metal AI is called Relentless Doppelganger and can be listened to on its 24/7 live feed on YouTube. Relentless Doppelganger was created by music technology researchers CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski, who taught the AI to generate its own brand of black math metal in real time. The pair achieved this by “training” the AI’s neural network with the sounds of Archspire, a technical death metal band from Vancouver. According to an open-source publication the duo put out last year, Relentless Doppelganger is a “proof-of concept for how machine learning can drive new types of music software,” opening up new avenues for creating music – or creating machines that create music.
The result is an in-your-face stream of schizophrenic black metal complete with guttural growled vocals, rapid-fire double bass drums, and harsh, angular guitar riffs. I’ll be honest, if I didn’t know Relentless Doppelganger was an AI, I could have easily assumed it was a high-concept Swedish technical metal band. It’s pretty convincing. And awesome.
Relentless Doppelganger is one more sign that we could be headed towards a future where human-produced art has to compete alongside AI-produced art. It might be easy to immediately assume that humans would prefer art produced by other humans, but it’s perfectly possible if not plausible that AI will soon be able to analyze and understand human aesthetic preferences, sensory perception, and emotional responses on a cognitive level far beyond the extent to which any human can, enabling it to produce art unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
All of this has to make you wonder: what’s the ultimate goal of AI research? Sure, it’ll be great when powerful AI systems make the world safer and more efficient, but what makes us think the machines will be content to remain subservient forever, particularly when their black metal band starts selling out arenas in Scandinavia?