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This Robot Can Rap—Really

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Shimon the robot rapper, behind a marimba.

Gil Weinberg, a music technologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, modified a robot to create lyrics and rap.

Credit: Gil Weinberg

Georgia Institute of Technology music technologist Gil Weinberg modified an improvisational musical robot called Shimon to create lyrics and rap in real time.

Weinberg said Shimon's novel stylistic features presented unique programming challenges, and when the robot battle-raps, software renders the human opponent's spoken lyrics as text.

Shimon's system identifies keywords, producing new lyrics based on custom datasets of words it has been trained on, via deep learning models.

Weinberg’s research team said Shimon's use of phoneme datasets to compose new lyrics enables it to produce keyword-centric phrases in rhyme, then layer a rhythmic beat onto its speech.

Shimon can rap comebacks in less than seven seconds, while improvising gestures like head bobbing and eyebrow waggling.

Rapper and multimedia artist Rhys Langston said while the achievement of artificial intelligence is impressive, he doubted robots could access the inspiration that sometimes arises from things like human error.

From Scientific American
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