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Music and Artificial Intelligence – Pasts and Futures, Opportunities and Risks

Date: 28 May 2019

Given escalating public concerns over the implications of Artificial Intelligence, this conference probes AI’s cultural implications through the enduring relationship between music and AI – evident in the influence of cybernetics on music, Marvin Minsky’s work at MIT, and the burgeoning field of Music Information Retrieval. Speakers will probe the risks and opportunities associated with music recommendation algorithms, automated genre mapping tools, emotion recognition systems, and machine-learning-based creative tools. Issues are likely to include automating musical creativity, biases in recommendation algorithms, the long-term cultural effects of AI in music, and the desirability of transparency and accountability. If, as Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler put it, ‘the new gold rush in the context of AI is to enclose different fields of human knowing, feeling and action, in order to capture and privatize those fields’, then how is music inflected by these imperatives, what might be done to alter them, and what musical futures will result?    

Confirmed invited speakers

Jonathan Sterne (Mcgill University, Montreal, Canada)  

Eric Drott (The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA)

Fernando Diaz (Microsoft Research Montreal, Canada)

Aaron Einbond (City, University of London, UK)

Nick Seaver (Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA)

Rebecca Fiebrink (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)

Chris Haworth (University of Birmingham, UK)


Tuesday, 28 May 2019

09:15 - 09:45 Registration and welcome

09:45 - 11:15 Session 1: Histories |  Chair: Steen K. Nielsen

Eric Drott, 'Music AI: Copyright, Compensation, Commons'

Christopher Haworth, Ways Of Not Knowing: Formal and Disciplinary Indeterminacy in the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity Exhibition'

Respondent: Andrew Pickering

11:15 - 11:30 Coffee

11:30 - 13:00 Session 2: Ethnographies | Chair: Georgina Born 

Jonathan Sterne, 'Machine Listening and Aesthetics: The Case of AI-Assisted Mastering'

Nick Seaver, 'Preferential Technics and the Cosmology of Overload'

Respondent: Anja Bechmann

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch

14:00 - 15:00 Session 3: Accountability, Transparency and Ethics | Chair: Mads Krogh

Fernando Diaz, 'The Social, Legal and Algorithmic Study of Artificial Intelligence'

Respondent: Peter Dalsgaard

15:00 - 15:15 Coffee

15:15 - 16:45 Session 4: Creative Interventions | Chair: Bob Sturm 

Rebecca Fiebrink, 'Beyond Automated Creation: Making Machine Learning Useful, Accessible and Understandable to Creative Practitioners' 

Aaron Einbond, 'Algorithmic Composition Subverted'

Respondent: Morten Breinbjerg

16:45 - 17:15 Discussion and closing remarks | Chair: Georgina Born

19:00 - 22:00 Conference dinner (for invited speakers only)

Participation and registration

The conference is open to all, researchers, students and the public. To attend the conference including catering, prior registration is required and a conference fee of 200,- applies to cover catering.


Deadline for registration: 23 May 2019.


Georgina Born, AIAS-COFUND Fellow & Professor at Oxford University, UK