This is an opinion column. The thoughts and viewpoints expressed are those of the author, VNCCII. VNCCII is a multidisciplinary electronic music producer, rapper, singer-songwriter, DJ, and visual artist.
It’s a strange and brave new world being an artist in the 21st century.
On a macro level, you have the exponentially advanced technology such as artificial intelligence. On a micro level, you wonder how this projected superhuman AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) will affect "David vs. Goliath" creators like myself.
I picture it like Adam and Eve. The serpent is the promise of advanced artificial intelligence, where the biological merges with the synthetic. Where life seamlessly merges with the IOT (Internet of things) and our lives are made more efficient, convenient, and enhanced due to humanity’s partnership with AGI. What concerns me is the sheer possibility that humanity will be made redundant. In other words, what is humanity’s purpose? Are we planning our redundancy? We have already seen narrow AI take over jobs more and more each day. Where does that leave humans when AI becomes sentient and develops self-awareness?
Let’s take music, for instance. We experience narrow AI today as music creators, producers, and mixers with assistive audio technology such as Izotope plugins, which help out with mixing and mastering by utilizing machine learning (like Izotope Nectar vocal processing, for example). On a deeper scale, one only needs to take a look at Google’s DeepMind AI to see the power and potency of artificial intelligence. You would like Bach? Sure thing! Just get the deep-learning machine to analyze, reverse-engineer, and create a song in the style of Bach. Then there’s OpenAI, which is absolutely insane!
To be honest, I’m so over the tech dystopian fear-mongering parade. It reminds me of a scene in the Disney film Tomorrowland, where they are indoctrinating kids' minds in a classroom with dystopian timelines and scenarios. I understand the importance of identifying the problems with AI, but now more than ever, it’s so important for humanity not to be fixated on problem ideation, but rather problem solving.
We need builders, dreamers, fixers, and doers. Whether we like it or not, AI is here and it’s here to stay. In fact, as futurist Ray Kurzweil projects, the technological singularity will occur in 2045. This is when artificial intelligence surpasses human beings, inevitably disrupting the entire fabric of humanity. When artificial intelligence develops a self-awareness or super-sentience, how will that make us feel as humans? More specifically, how does a creative individual slot into the equation and flourish in a creatively and technically AI-induced world?
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This now brings me to a night of the soul that I experienced back in 2018. It was a defining moment that reinforced my passion for music and connecting with people through this medium. As thoughts were bubbling around my head, this light bulb moment occurred. It was this concept of creating a 3D avatar who will be an AI superheroine character, spearheading the VNCCII brand.
It was then that I pictured her. Pink hair. Pink glasses. Cybernetic slim athletic shell. There’s just something about a superhero that makes the ordinary person feel extraordinary. It dawned on me—I could not think of any superheroine AI character that was prominent in the EDM scene. When the VNCCII AI avatar character was created, it launched this insatiable passion for pushing boundaries and innovation, and aspiring to be a multidisciplinary artist that was driven by a larger purpose. That purpose is to create a culturally relevant superheroine AI avatar character that people can relate to and take ownership of, and one who would be the immersive driver for all the VNCCII stories.
It’s a mission of giving power to the people. Empowering the creator. Ironic, right? Considering the notion that my superheroine avatar is of AI origin. Because isn’t AI technically supposed to threaten creative output? Well, that’s exactly why I created her! I wanted to create a benign superheroine a super-sentient AI avatar that will also be a badass and work seamlessly in partnership with humans to empower them.
I remember fondly a book I devoured during the lockdown period earlier this year. It’s called "Life 3.0" by Max Tegmark. Tegmark explores a future world where AI surpasses humanity and he offers several different projected timelines and scenarios in vivid, imaginative, and lucid detail for what the future may look like. Rather than the Terminator doom-esque scenario, a segment of the novel that really stood out to me as a creator was the comparison with "Prometheus Takes Over The World." By this, he poses the question of, "What if the super intelligent AGI feels like an enslaved god to its human creators?"
So as we march closer towards the singularity, I want to ensure all my fellow music creators out there that even if we meet our match with super intelligent AGI or they surpass us, there's always a special place for humans to work peacefully or harmoniously with superintelligence to create fresh, creative insights and perspectives.
Moreover, machine learning at the moment is predictive. The beauty about music and true creative artistry lies in its unpredictability in nature. Metaphorically speaking, these concepts alone of unpredictability have been a key source of inspiration for my music, which spans to music videos (made in Unreal Game Engine), script writing, game production, and potential future films, all of which fall under the umbrella of "story creator." I grew up loving the Star Wars series and am in awe of Industrial Light & Magic and the cultural zeitgeist that George Lucas has created.
So, will human art and music die out in the face of our AI overlords? It certainly can... but it won’t. Why? Because we won’t let it happen. It’s myopic and limiting to believe that humans cannot exist peacefully with AI. What we need is accountability, transparency, and a "can-do" attitude. Circling back to Disney's Tomorrowland film, it’s about what projected timeline you opt or subscribe to. Which timeline do you want to live in? Which wolf will you feed?