[Smt-talk] Fw: Humans and Computers -- Was: Aesthetics of Computer-Generated Music

Greenwich green at webster.sk.ca
Mon Apr 25 08:28:01 PDT 2011

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Greenwich 
To: List: Society Music Theory 
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2011 9:04 AM
Subject: Humans and Computers -- Was: Aesthetics of Computer-Generated Music

 "A person who won't read has no advantage 
        over one who can't read." --Mark Twain

   Simply put, there really is no serious qualitative difference between humans and machines. Only minor ones.
       A machine can be thought of (as I think of them) as extensions to the senses -- this may include the body itself, and may even include the body politic.
    As a result, the evolution of machines are a part of the continuation of general human evolutionary processes.
    A few examples: The microscope, telescope, and even eyeglasses, are extensions of the eye. They are evolved, and can become an integral part of individual humans, or at least part of specific communities of humans (e.g., scientific researchers).
    The telephone is an extension of the voice and of hearing. AND SO ON.
    In the tiny world of music composition, computer-generated-music is the use of computers as an extension of the brain, its ability to calculate, or to more speedily do that, and then that is applied by the program's inventor, depending upon how viable the program is, to composing music (or composing crap). 
    The failure of some programs to compose anything worthwhile is like any other failed "mutation" that didn't "take."
    The method by which that evolution takes place -- being by "external" machines, with "on-off" buttons, rather than by DNA and chromosome changes, is just one of those "minor" (but important) quantitative differences between humanity and machine-dom. AND -- that difference is more and more destined  to become less and less "external."
    Taken on a global scale, the human race literally changed itself  by "growing"  inventions and mechanization worldwide, as it also does with social inventions and revolutions. These can all be redefined as an aspect of a broader idea of biology -- especially  as we increase the ability to manipulate and create internal DNA capacities and properties  where none existed before. 
    It's better to undertsand something by changing paper definitions, than fail to understand, by continuing any flawed or overly limited definition -- such as was often done before, when defining who is human and who is not. Or when defining which was the central body in the solar system.
    -- Bob Fink,
retired musicologist (Saskatoon).
More info: See:
"A person who won't read has no advantage 
        over one who can't read." --Mark Twain

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michael Morse 
  To: nombraun at telia.com ; smt-talk at societymusictheory.org 
  Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2011 7:48 AM
  Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Aesthetics of Computer-Generated Music

  As always, Martin Braun gives us much to explore and think about!

  > In philosophy it is today common to examine concepts like "conscience",
  > "self", and "free will" using data from neurophysiology.
  > This would suggest that one day also the field of music theory will discuss
  > issues around its central concepts of "tonicality" and "modality" using data
  > from neurophysiology.
  > Martin

    Although the computer music skeptics in the discussion may seem to have assumed it, it is interesting that no one here has insisted much on an essential, in all the resonances of that word, distinction between man and machine. This may be in part due to post-modern assaults on the notion of the human. And perhaps we all know too many machines too well to buy a grand or quasi-theological contradistinction any more. That said, from what I have seen so far, the hoary positivist assumption that data is data, language is language, regardless of the medium, has also been advanced with a bit more diffidence than once upon a time. 
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