The short stories in the MIT Technology Review Annual offer renewed sci-fi glimpses, each with their own promise and warning. Lots of discomfort and wonder at what we could have to grapple with in the future – but is it just a distracting narrative? What do we need to grapple with now, ethically?
More evidence of our increased plasticity/bionic-capacity (Williams & Bendelow, 1998). Here an amputee’s artificial limb goes beyond regaining human capability/function to exceeding it, with help from Gil Weinberg and team at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
It’s a common theme that runs through most of Weinberg’s work – the idea that robots can help us make music that wouldn’t be possible by humans alone. For example, software can crunch data much more quickly than we can, he says. It can also combine different musical styles in unexpected ways.
In sport, it has been asked whether certain modern artificial limbs give users an advantage, and should therefore not be permitted in competition (blogged about here). Music, however, has less clear lines about what the competition is, or whether indeed it is a competition. If we can produce ‘better’ music with such artificial limbs, what’s to stop so-called able-bodied musicians from obtaining them, beyond finance? Does knowing that music is machine-made affect enjoyment?