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Artificial Intelligence meets social networking, video and music

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jan 30,2020 - Last updated at Jan 30,2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI), beyond any doubt, is one of the most exciting aspects of digital technology. It is also one of the most promising, one that is starting to change our attitude towards technology and the way we deal with it. AI is not about faster and ever more powerful computers and networks, but about interfacing with them in a different, a more, well, intelligent manner, though of course AI also needs ultra-fast processors to work and to deliver.

From its early days in the mid-1980s, when Elaine Rich from the University of Texas in Austin wrote a pioneering student handbook on the subject, to today’s phenomenal video-sharing social networking service TikTok, AI has come a long way.

At first sight AI forays seem the most spectacular in critical, business applications like for instance driverless vehicles and online financial transactions. Last year, Yessi Bello Perez, writing for thenextweb.com, said “Blockchain and AI could be a perfect match”, confirming that online payment and banking are to benefit from AI in a significant manner very soon.

Apart from the above very “serious and professional” fields, AI seems already to have touched the masses in a very popular, more entertaining manner: social networking and music. Suffice to see the extraordinary popularity of TikTok. The social network service uses AI to let you easily and quickly create personalised videos where the music, the beat, the lip sync and even the dance and body movements are perfectly synchronised, with almost no manual intervention at all.

The result is very pleasing and looks as if it were edited by professional movie directors and makers. With traditional video editing this would take forever and would not even produce the same result in the end.

TikTok was launched in September 2016 and already has 500 million users. Admitted, the China-based network is mainly used by the under-twenty population, but this does diminish its impact on society, overall – quite the opposite actually! It certainly is a great illustration of one practical, tangible application of AI.

In the line of AI applied to video creation, but in a segment that is more specific to pure music, the technology is bound to revolutionise the way music is taught, composed and played, though some purists remain sceptical about the actual results, standing by their strong belief that music is an art that does not obey technology.

Still, Chinese giant Huawei (yes China, again...), claims to have used smartphones and “deep neural networking” to analyse the available movements of Franz Schubert’s famous unfinished Symphony No. 8 and to have then helped compose the two missing ones!

Metronaut is another IT application, made by French company Antescofo, and that is available for Apple devices and operating system. It provides intelligent musical accompaniment for a solo instrument and seems for the moment restricted to classical music. Antescofo is the brainchild and product of IRCAM, the “French institute for science about music and sound and avant-garde electro-acoustical art music.”

Joué (French for toy, spelled in a fancy way) is a music keyboard that looks that no other keyboard. It has a small footprint, being hardly larger than a full-size computer keyboard, and thanks to AI technology it lets you play, compose and arrange music in an unprecedented way. Joué is hard to describe in words but can be easily seen in spectacular action on the web.

Will AI impact other popular fields soon, other social networks such as Facebook or Instagram? It would be interesting to see how.

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