Just in time for the chilling winter months, here's a computer's idea of a cheery festive song. It was penned by an AI developed at the University of Toronto, which builds on deep learning capabilities like those of Google's DeepDream. Instead of turning images into hallucination nightmare dogs, this project took seasonal inputs and kicked out its best approximation of a real human carol. It's called "Neural Karaoke," because good science is unnerving science.
To prepare, the AI was given 100 hours of Christmas music, 50 hours of song lyrics, and video feed from the game Just Dance. So the thing can dance too. That's great. It then worked on patterns between images and captions to further delve into the irrational emotional connections we meatbags associate with visual signifiers. Like holly. Or a fat red man. Or "joy."
The AI was then given a jolly source image and tasked with developing its own melody, drum track, chords, and lyrics to match. It's impressive and jazzy stuff. Try to listen to this without imagining a group of "friendly" robots singing it to you, while they hunt you down in an abandoned hospital, as the snow falls softly outside.
As one professor suggested to The Guardian, "You can imagine having an AI channel on Pandora or Spotify that generates music, or takes people's pictures and sings about them." I mean, yes, I could imagine that. I'd distinctly rather not. I'm not a big Holiday Season fan in the first place, but this has me ready to trade in the stockings and gifts for more time training for the immortal robot war on Christmas.