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Jazz-Singing Robot Could Shed Light on Consciousness

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Telenoid robot

Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory's Telenoid robot will be trained to mimic the movements and simple sounds made by a human singer.

Credit: Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory

The University of Palermo's Antonio Chella is working to teach a singing robot how to improvise jazz duets with a human with hopes of learning more about the nature of consciousness.

Chella and colleagues will train a Telenoid robot, developed by the Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory, to mimic the movements and sounds of a human singer and to associate parts of music with different emotional states. Chella then wants to see if the robot can use the associations to improvise. He suggests that a conscious organism should be able to combine musical phrases in new ways.

Chella notes jazz musicians draw from their mental library of musical phrases, make novel connections, and create new music, but the combinations happen in a state that is similar to dreaming. "Not really conscious, but not unconscious," Chella says. He wants to replicate these states in a machine, noting that "consciousness could be linked to these moments of combination." Chella presented the idea this month at the International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks.

From New Scientist
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