Review: Austin & Ally: “Future Sounds & Festival Songs”

Recently I started on that TV show. I am a 21-year-old but when I am stressed out I still, occasionally, watch Disney Channel shows.

This particular episode, however, caught my notice. It is about Austin finding out about a songwriting machine (or algorithm) that takes a few notes as its input, and spits out a whole pop-ish song.

Austin had a vision that in the future, the subsequent improvements of that machine lead to a world in which anything and everything is automated and crazily accelerated, even including procedures of learning, physical exercise and more. Every member of that future society is bored out even into a war of plaids, and ended up with everyone settling with identical living styles and identical clothes, while our current view of creativity becoming a museum piece.

That show is about music, but it reflected something on me. Hence this review.

I recently came across a project, led by a friend of mine, which designed an algorithm that takes the melody of a song as its input, and spits out chords that goes with the melody. When I see the machine (or algorithm) that spits out a whole song from a few starting notes, that seemed to me like a logical progression from that project.

Somehow it got me thinking: is it worth for us to automate anything and everything in the first place, especially the procedure of creativity?

I am a student major in computer sciences, and computer sciences is, from one aspect, about automating procedures of everything. I am thinking, is the current mode of thought in computer science world about automating everything, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, somehow flawed and may one day come back to us and bite?

In Austin’s vision of the future, all creativity work, including songwriting and culinary arts, are automated procedures that is controlled with some algorithms with limited randomness. People are dumbed down to consider that little randomness as creativity. When Austin, retaining his clearly higher level of creativity than that of the people, including his friends, from that time, let his creativity loose in front of the people from that era, everyone is dazzled.

This is somehow true in the world of computer science and engineering. I have once worked for someone in a game company. The boss clearly rejected my suggestion of writing something new in the upcoming game (and insist on copying someone else’s premise and simple mix and match,) and even scolded me of not using existing code. To me, using existing code dumbed the programmers down, since exploring and experimenting is taken away, replaced with whatever is already set in stone.

If that is the trend of future, that future will be sad and dull. I would rather occasionally reinvent the wheel just to know how it works and probably find out an issue or two and creatively fix it, than sticking all the way down on the path and copy-paste all the way.

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