The fear that automation, artificial intelligence, and robots are going to take over the world and leave people without a job has been around for years, and it’s a perfectly valid concern, although it should probably be pointed out that this has been happening for decades and it’s nothing new.
One thing that people believe belongs strictly to humans, however, is creativity. People are the ones that are creative enough to write a book, to compose music, to dance, to act, to write poems, and so on. And yet, over the past few years, we’ve seen AIs writing books, rewriting Harry Potter into something that resembles bad fanfiction, composing songs, and even a robot dancing with a human. Of course, none of this is actually of the robot’s or AI’s own volition, but it’s still something that many people consider only humans should do. In a world where Artificial Intelligence can handle workloads faster than the human mind can, and robots can lift a lot more than the world’s strongest men can, creativity seems to be the last thing that belongs solely to humans.
And yet… that’s not the truth. The latest uproar comes after a New Year’s party in a club in Prague was DJ’ed by a single-arm robot called Kuka. DJ Kuka grabbed discs, changed songs, and even bobbed along to the music.
Attendees had mixed feelings about this progressive turn of events, saying the DJ can’t “feel” what people want to dance to. And of course that’s true – it’s a robot and Singularity is far from being reached, so it’s not conscious to understand what people may want to dance to. But then again, there are countless famous DJs out there that have been known for creating playlists beforehand and simply pressing the play button during their performance and acting as if they’re actually pushing buttons, changing discs, and mixing music.
The robot addition
What these DJs can do and Kuka can’t, however, is dance and rile up the crowd like human DJs do. In short, the attendees that complained about DJ Kuka were missing the human element of the show, in part because of the newness of the situation they were put in, in part because of the resistance to admit that creative jobs may also one-day fall prey to automation.
Machines, for now, are predictable. Humans rarely are. And it’s that unpredictability that attracts other humans, at least when it comes to entertainers – the ability to stray from the path, to improvise, to create something new on a whim.
On the other hand, it’s likely that we’ll see more robots like Kuka, entertaining the crowds. After all, they’re less likely to demand to be paid as much as the top DJs of the world.