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07/19/2016 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/19/2016 10:20

Murmuration Spotlight: Gil Weinberg and the Future of Robotic Music

Gil Weinberg may not yet be a household name in the human realm. But in the robotic world, he's the equivalent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart meets Thomas Edison. An accomplished musician, Weinberg is also a leading roboticist whose inventions include music-playing androids and intelligent prosthetics that respond to rhythms and beats.

'I hope that in five years we can actually have robots that actually create new music that could never have been created by humans,' says Weinberg, director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. 'You will go to a robotics concert or show and be baffled and amazed by the kind of music it will create - new genres, new sounds, new timbres, new colors.'

When that day arrives it will be in large part due to Weinberg, who'll lead the discussion Beyond Human - Creativity and The Machineduring St, Louis Murmuration Festival.

In 2005 Weinberg made headlines with Haile(pronounced 'Hi-Lee'), the world's first truly improvisational, music-playing robot whose programmed algorithms allowed it to identify rhythm changes and play along with human performers. Weinberg followed that up with Shimon, a marimba-playing robotthat can improvise like a jazz master. Most recently Weinberg made news when he designed a drum-playing prosthetic armfor a musician who lost his a limb in a work-related accident.

And how does this cyborg-generated music actually sound? Promising, says Weinberg. Though don't expect it to bounce Beyoncé (and other humans) off the top-selling charts too soon.

'I think along the way we'll get a lot of new music that is maybe not great - less than humans,' Weinberg speculates. 'But if we do the right things and use human aesthetics when designing these robots and then let them go (let the algorithm create new things), I think the combination of robotic skills and mechanical abilities and all of the things that are great about robots with human expression and creativity can create the sparks that will lead to music that would be inspiring and amazing.'