While many of his colleagues at Google are busy working on things like search, Web browsing, or mobile software, Douglas Eck spends a lot of time thinking about how to use computers to make music that sounds as natural as a pianist tickling the ivories.
Eck is a research scientist on the Google Brain team, heading up Magenta—an open-source research project that’s making music and art with machine learning. And while his work may not sound like the typical task for the company, he thinks that given music’s complexity, making progress on using AI in the creative process could bleed over into other areas, too.
In this interview with MIT Technology Review, Eck discusses Magenta researchers’ efforts to use deep learning to create entirely new sounds and plays some music created via Magenta. He also discusses what it means to use AI in the creative process, and whether art can really be original if it’s made with the help of a computer trained on, for instance, the entire history of Madonna songs.