Who is Idoru?
In the previous two weeks I touched upon how we could react to music produced from AI and how such tools might affect the music industry and the value of music in our lives in general. However, artificial intelligence is a technology that if combined with others, could produce even more impactful results. This post once again will not provide answers but rather questions and food for thought.
When years ago I was reading the book “Idoru” by William Gibson (yes… once again him), I was thinking that what he was writing would lie far ahead in our future. Idoru is a book about an artificial artist, called Idoru, who was performing live as a hologram. I don’t remember if it was also creating its own music but given what we see lately we could also imagine that it could. Obviously it was a successful endeavor since many young people were going crazy about it filling stadiums and other large venues to see it live.
Now you may be wondering how could a soulless software inspire and connect with so many people and create this hype as if it was a real person. I believe I can explain this partly with… yawing and laughing. Has it ever happened to you to start yawning just because another person close to you does? You might not be sleepy or bored but still you feel the need to yawn. Why is this happening? Neuroscientist have discovered some special neurons in our brains called mirror neurons. It is these neurons that are activated and we yawn when we see someone else do so or laugh just because another person is laughing their heart out. Those are the neurons that are responsible for what we call empathy because they can imitate someone else’s attitude and therefore being us closer to their state of mind.
This is also how the energy of performers is transmitted to their audience. In the case of musicians or singers, it’s not only the music or the lyrics that transmit the energy and the feeling but also the body language, the attitude, maybe the choreography or even the facial expressions that transmit it. Actually, I think these are sometimes even more powerful than the songs themselves. But in order to have all this you don’t really need to be human. A hologram or a human-like robot could also change those parameters and therefore transmit a specific energy when on stage. Now that I think of it… even seeing the performer on a screen transmits energy. That’s why on large concerts they have those huge screens.
A new kind of artist?
So let’s assume you have software that can write this emotional music that touches you. Would it be enough to have a computer on stage hit the play button and let it play “live”? Would that constitute a live performance? Would you consider this software as an artist? I guess not. But what if instead of the computer you saw a hologram, a robot or even an avatar on a screen? Wouldn’t that make it easier for you to connect with the software “artist” then? Would that make it easier for you to enjoy their concert? Possibility yes.
But then again… Transmitting energy is one way of communication… The live artists also receive the energy and react to it. That’s what makes a live performance unique. So if our future Idorus have a body and a face like us… Then if they can also receive the reactions during a performance and react accordingly… We could say that they will be performing live… really live!
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
So how about you? What if there was a new holographic Tango orchestra? Or what if you could see hologram orchestras from the past? Like Troilo or Pugliese… Would you consider it a live performance? Would you like to see it? Live it? Dance to it? Until then enjoy the famous d’Arienzo and his orchestra performing live “Loca” and think about it. Maybe sometime in the near future you could attend a milonga where they play as holograms.