The sounds that make harmony in our minds

Music can be an inspiration for many people. It has been part of human history since before we kept history. It is something almost everyone can relate to at least in some part. People have even tried to quantify the most pleasing sounds scientifically, and as a person with a degree in chemistry, I applaud the endeavor to better understand the human brain and how it functions.

When I am writing, I almost always have some music playing in the background. Sometimes it is the same song on an endless loop, other times it is a playlist on the loop. I admit that as I am working, I pretty much tune out a conscious awareness of the music, but it does allow me to set my mood for what I am working on.

But that got me thinking about what my brain really is doing with that sensory input and how I am treating it very much like a machine. I push in a specific input (the chosen music) to achieve a specific output (a particular mood).

Switching gears slightly. Something that you may not have heard of is Hatsune Miku, which according to the Wikipedia article and Crypton Future Media translates into “the first sound of the future.” She is a hologram with a computer-generated voice developed by Crypton Future Media.

Below is a YouTube video from an Expo in 2016 where people watched the hologram performance.

While I know some people will scoff at the idea of people paying money to listen to a computer, I actually find it fascinating to see just how far computer technology has come since I got my first computer. Plus, I will remind you that we joke about pet rocks while wishing we had come up with that ourselves.

The idea of machine learning, and the eventual rise of our new masters (I fully support you), is not new to writers and storytellers. We’ve had tales of our eventual downfall to the machines (or other advanced/magical constructs like golems) for thousands of years. Some of my favorite modern examples are things like Terminator and Terminator 2 (okay, not exactly modern as they are getting older, but still great).

There are other subtle hints of more sophisticated and cunning examples of computer technology impacting our lives and fooling our eyes and ears. This again is not new in writing or movie; however, the CGI ending with Princess Leia at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a great example of being able to make a very real representation of a person outside of their time and place. Compare that with Max Headroom, an AI from 1984 (and worth a watch).

A possible implication of all this is framing someone in the court of public opinion when so many people are easily swayed by first impressions and skeptical of evidence. In the future, I imagine a period of time were digital forensics might have a hard time telling truth from fiction if one technology outpaces another.

And getting us back to music, this weekend CBS’ Sunday Morning talked about the fact that several stars that are no longer with us today will once again be making an appearance on stage, which relate in part back to Hatsune Miku. Here is a CBS news article about bringing back Maria Callas as discussed on Sunday Morning.

I find the technology fascinating, and as a reader and writer, I see the fantasies of yesterday becoming today’s reality, and from that, my mind jumps to the next great world ending scenario (because dystopian stories have always had an audience). I just hope that in the future, when I come back as a hologram, they give me Dwayne Johnson’s abs.