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These Quadcoptors Are Better Robotic Musicians Than the Rock-Afire Explosion

In his book Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks writes that, “Anatomists would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician—but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment's hesitation."
Making music is one of the most neurologically demanding things we people can do. When you're playing off sheet music you're performing a combination of fine physical and mental operations—translating the symbols to motion, memorizing and reciting phrases, all while simultaneously getting and integrating feedback from what you're playing. And just as a guitarist's fingers become calloused in response to repeated exposure to strings, a musician's brain changes in response.
A study comparing the brains of professional musicians, amateur musicians, and non-musicians found a positive correlation between between being a musician and an increase in gray matter volume in the brain's perirolandic regions, including “primary motor and somatosensory areas, premotor areas, anterior superior parietal areas, and in the inferior temporal gyrus bilaterally.”
Now, what these drones are doing in the video above isn't really comparable—the drones aren't listening to the music they're making, learning from it, or getting any more gray matter.
Of course, the credit still lies with the programmers, which, in the case of the video above, KMel Robotics, particularly for how cleverly they rigged up the slide guitar. For now, the culpability for when robots do something stupid, like fly by a jetliner, or when they do something rad, like the national anthem, still resides with Team Flesh & Blood.
But it is an example of the fine coordination, timing and incremental movements that we people can now program groups of drones to perform, which is very cool. Coordinating swarming groups of robots remains an engineering/bandwidth puzzle, and each of these drones singing videos—while indisputably sort of silly—is also an amazing, if incremental step toward robots repairing bridges and building stuff on Mars.
If they start playing other songs of their own volition, maybe this should all be filed away under “better left undone.” As Motherboard's loyal readers will know, superintelligent AI carries real risk. It's nice to imagine that, if its ever developed, it will also carry a tune.
TOPICS: dronesvideofunmusicculture
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