Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - Infinite Monkeys, A.I., Chaos and Music

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Infinite Monkeys, A.I., Chaos and Music

 I was into computer programming for fun as a kid.  I think there are a lot of programming parallels that explains human thinking/psychology very well, regardless if it's the underlying process or not.

 Computers are all about acting on data in some form.  That's all humans are as well.  We are constantly parallel processing, re-writing hash tables, trying to make a new cyclic redundancy check that encompasses All We Have Experienced.

 We are constantly making linked lists to other humans, whose own hash tables are constantly being updated and rearranged. 

 We are never fully updated and sorted.  Unless we have reach satori, or some lofty Buddhist ideal of non-think: stasis.  It's the run-time impetus to SORT SORT SORT SORT that makes us human. 

 At the same time our algorithm is self-writing and evolving.  Like computers we have limits to our processing power.  It's my personal pet theory that whenever we encounter chaotic systems the math of what we perceive creates a buffer-over run situation, a literal "memory leak".

I'm not going to try to explain chaotic math.  The James Gleick book is kind of necessary for that I believe.  I will say that chaotic systems are often ascribed as being "random", but in reality are near-random.  The math that governs what a flame looks like, ocean waves, cloud formation are examples of this: they're not purely random, you can recognize these things for what they are.  They are chaotic, but definable systems.

 Note that as humans we find these chaotic systems "attractive".  It's my belief these things create something of a "loop" to us.  We attempt to sort the information we are perceiving, which we've labeled in a top level array marked "waterfall" maybe, but we run out of address space to place Everything We Are Trying To Sort.

 As humans we like the resulting sensation of this.  This is our Prime Function: finding stuff to sort.  Maybe God wants us to sort the universe, otherwise there is no point to it being perceived?  When presented with the possibility of perceiving almost at the limit of our awareness, we're in our optimized programming.  We're trying to sort information.

 But we can't when staring at a camp fire or surf at the beach.  Being "hypnotized" by not having enough memory space, and not enough address space.  The trick here being the system having a difference between chaos and what we think as "just noise".

 The creation of music by humans is an inherently chaotic process.  We can't perceive everything that has been done, whether it has or has not. It doesn't matter if the Infinite Monkeys has already recorded it all, we can't take that in.

 What happens with what is left over, unsorted data that should go in the "bit bucket" gets rearranged, and provides what is really an illusion - that we're "creating" something - by starting a new hash table based on that bit bucket left over noise getting blended into actual data.  We "see", or imagine we can "hear" a way to sort near-chaotic scale data - the history of our experience of music - without the cognition that it's already been "sorted" by other people.  The noise introduced by the error of not being able to fully perceive a chaotic system allows us to continue the enjoyment of our Prime Programming: sorting.

 So whether "all music has been written" or not doesn't matter, because as a human you have to make your own hash table and sort YOUR data set.  Whether you produce a new data set that another human perceives as being almost chaotic, that creates that illusion (mystery), is the question.  A question answered less likely in my opinion by taking wrote, "traditionally" procedural methods.

 Likewise a.i. won't produce "new" music we perceive as being human.  The bounding functions will never be like a human - without the a.i. becoming human.  In turn there will always be a strangeness combined with a familiarity, stuck in the Uncanny Valley.  Copying music a human sort algorithm has produced is not the same process that the human used.  The bounding functions have to be identical, and they inherently can't be without the a.i. becoming human.

 Which isn't beyond the realm of technological possibility on day. Maybe.  Regardless, I think we'd have other sociological concerns regarding a.i. before a.i. comes up with a new "Beatles", "Bach" or some such.

 This log blathering was induced by the following... I just replied to a student's comment to another blog, and it went something like this:

Like pi or a room full of monkeys with typewriters eventually every possible expression will arise .You indicated in my first lesson this was the case with music (not counting the infinite sound effect combos with pedals etc). If so what musical tale is left to tell without leaving the human domain? Maybe we're already there and machines will define their own sonic preferences .

I have a problem with the Infinite Typewriting Monkeys conjecture because it only gives a hypothetical excuse to say "all combinations are possible". Which is always the case regardless of what causes the combinations to be instantiated. The multiverse perspective applied to music (or any art, writing) ignores the aspects that the combinations don't matter without:
1) an "audience" to perceive that there are actually nth combinations having been created;
2) humans are walking sorting algorithms.

The monkeys get through writing everything, Shakespeare, Pink Floyd, Frank Lloyd Wright and Renoir, but it doesn't "exist" until it's perceived. The human subjectivity sorting through that is no different than a human sorting it's present-historical data set.

It's the inherent limits of human perception that makes the sorting algorithm the creative part, combined with embracing the near-random aspects of chaos math. An A.I. will not have limits that are the result of organic evolution in the Newtonian world as we experience it. It will not make new music that befuddles our sorting process, except in the sense of making it so diffuse we can't specify it's origin. Having a whisp of an "origin" prevents music from being noise to us, there has to be context.

I've heard some a.i. music that is very creepy, that one can generalize as being the product of some sort of sorting process of human composers, but without human Newtonian-biological experience it has no context. I think the creepiness is not from a musically relevant source, but that there IS a quasi-biological neural-sim process that has made it that puts it into the Uncanny Valley.

I don't see a.i. created music coming out of the Uncanny Valley without them being human at that point...

... but we're still humans, and the way "music" is presented is still pretty unlimited sans corporate social influence. You do a sort on your musical experience and make a polyglot-collage that tweaks another human's cognition; a mutual-shared intellectual hallucination, "almost cognitive dissonance". That's "art".

Relative to my blog post, if one assumes there is (was) a General Knowledge Base of Pop Music then given what I wrote above, certain combinations triggers the Herd's Sort Algorithm and *should* put certain reoccurring data into a top-level hash table array. The process of hashing combined with ... "human mantissa over run", the human attempt to grasp patterns in the Lorentz-space of a chaotic system is pleasant. Uhm.. Ok, I'm making myself say "wow" looking at that, hahaha...

but I'm serious.

 I know, that sounds like a great example of Stereotypical Spendashery and Garbleflexiveness with "$5 words".  Hopefully it was entertaining if you got this far... <g>


1 comment:

  1. that's the blue pill experience. Based on your analogy, Muzak would be considered "dull" because it's already sorted out for predictable and limited. I guess this is as accurate an explanation for the secret sauce that keeps us intrigued by art. Much appreciated Chip.