Robots: EDM Friend or Foe?
This article was written by Tanisha Mahmud and Manny Van Dahl with the help of A.I.
Many of us have heard about “Sophia,” the human-robot, Robot Soldiers, Robot dogs, Robot Cooks, Robot Farms, Robot workers, Robots, Robots, Robots. Let’s face it, Robots are here and they are here to stay.
So, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines recently after speaking out against the robot “surveillance dog” hired by the N.Y.P.D., from Boston Dynamics, it stunned a lot of people. Like a scene from the movie Robocop, a stunned bystander can be heard saying, “I’ve never before seen anything like this in my life…Ooh! That [robot] move better than a [real] dog.”
The “surveillance dog” has since been recalled. However, not all robots are created equal, and in the circumstances like the covid-19 pandemic, robots have proven they can not only be useful but essential. According to a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America, they predicted that robots could replace up to 75% of the workforce in El Salvador and 68% of the workforce in Costa Rica, all in the not-too-distant future.
In the United States, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for robot workers. And fast food restaurants across the nation are embracing the “new burger chef” by Miso Robotics. The company behind “the $3/hour robot that never goes home.”
Technology has always had a unique place at the center of the genre for electronic dance music. Electronic music revolutionized how music is made, in the most rudimentary sense, by a computer. It is now the exception and not the standard when a dance track is made using traditional instruments.
Released earlier this year, Joel Corry, David Guetta, and singer-songwriter RAYE teamed up to record a song called “Bed.” And the music video perfectly demonstrates the futuristic outlook that EDM artists often express themselves with. A world in which robots are the norm, where they cook and clean but are ultimately incapable of loving. The production team even hired a movement specialist coach Kieran Daley-Ward, to ensure the acting seemed as robot-like as possible.
The vision for “Bed” is not outlandish. It was just in December of 2020 when Boston Dynamics—who Hyundai recently purchased, took to social media to share videos of their Atlas and Spot robots sprinting, doing backflips, and performing a dance routine to The Contours’ “Do You Love Me.”
So, in a way, AI and robotics have always been part of the aesthetic of electronic dance music, but their integration into the creative process is still relatively new.
In the ‘90s, David Bowie designed the Verbalizer A.I. application––a software program that created new lyrics.
More recently, in 2016, Sony developed the A.I. Flow Machine––a technology that can make music.
Despite all of our advancement, it is important to note that while robots may soon take up our repetitive jobs, it will be much longer, if not impossible, before a robot can put a human experience into a song. And while Electronic music and technology have always worked in harmony, true love and music will always be distinctively human.