Human Collaboration with an AI Musician

Improvising music is one of the most creatively challenging and rewarding things that humans can do together. It evokes virtuosity, motor skills, timing, trust and ‘feel’, each person working moment-to-moment to keep the music flowing. When collaboration works, the results seem almost magical, but achieving a good collaboration is fragile and difficult, even for the best music improvisers. What happens when one of the musicians is an Artificial Intelligence?

In this presentation, we will showcase our research and discuss ideas behind the design of AI systems that inspire and support human creativity. Creativity forces fundamentally different thinking about what AI should be over the conventions that have dominated other domains. In our work we are not looking at bettering or replacing human musicians, rather we want to support and expand human creativity for everyone.

This presentation will include music performances and an interactive Q&A featuring researchers at Monash University in Melbourne Australia, and Goldsmiths, University of London in the UK.

In this unique music performance, Dr Alon Ilsar, percussionist and music technology researcher from Monash, and Professor Mark d’Inverno, London Jazz pianist and AI researcher from Goldsmiths, will be joined by an AI musician for a live improvisation between humans and AI.

Monash Data Futures Institute is your access point to the breadth of Monash University’s expertise in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science for social good. We bring together researchers across faculties at Monash University, advancing interdisciplinary approaches to AI and Data Science for social good while collaborating with the world’s best minds to drive transformational change.

Speakers, Panelists and Moderators

    Professor, Founder and Director
    Monash University
    Professor Jon McCormack works at the nexus of art, technology and society. His experimental practice is driven by an enduring interest in computing and incorporates generative art, sound, evolutionary systems, computer creativity, physical computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning. His artworks have been widely exhibited at leading galleries, museums and symposia, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), Tate Gallery (Liverpool, UK), ACM SIGGRAPH (USA and Asia), Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Australia). He is the recipient of 18 awards for new media art and computer science research including prizes at Ars Electronica (Austria), Nagoya Biennial (Japan), the 2012 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science and the 2016 Lumen Prize for digital art (still images). He is currently undertaking a Future Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council, that investigates new models for the generative design of digitally fabricated materials. Professor McCormack is also the founder and director of SensiLab, a trans-disciplinary research space dedicated to the future of creative technology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. SensiLab’s collective research explores the untapped potential of technology, its impacts on society and the new possibilities it enables. Its dedicated research space – which opened in late 2017 – encourages enthusiasm, curiosity, seamless collaboration and unrestricted experimentation.  
    Drummer, composer, instrument designer and researcher
    Monash University
    Alon Ilsar is an Australian-based drummer, composer, instrument designer and researcher. He is the co-designer of a new gestural instrument for electronic percussionists, the AirSticks. Alon is researching the uses of the AirSticks in the field of health and well being, making music creation more accessible to the broader community. Alon holds a PhD in instrument design through the University of Technology Sydney, under the supervision of Andrew Johnston. He has played the AirSticks at Sydney’s Vivid Festival, on Triple J’s Like a Version and at NYC’s MET Museum, in projects including Trigger Happy ‘Visualised’, The Hour, The Sticks, Tuka (from Thundamentals), Sandy Evans’ ‘Rockpool,’ Ellen Kirkwood’s ‘[A]part‘, Kirin J Callinan, Kind of Silence (UK), Cephalon (US) and Silent Spring. He has played drums in Belvoir Theatre’s ‘Keating! the Musical,’ Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘Mojo,’ Meow Meow with the London Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, Alan Cumming, Jake Shears and Eddie Perfect.
    Lecturer of Creative AI for the Faculty of Information Technology
    Monash University
    Maria Teresa Llano is a Lecturer of Creative AI for the Faculty of Information Technology in the Department of Human-Centred Computing and is also part of SensiLab. Teresa holds a BEng in Computer Science from Icesi University (Cali, Colombia), and an MSc in Software Engineering and a PhD in Computing from the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences (MACS) at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, Scotland). Teresa’s research is focused on Computational Creativity, specifically in applying tools and techniques from different areas of AI to enable software systems to become creative collaborators, and for the development of tools that support designers and that make technologies more accessible. Her research interests include co-creative systems, generative systems, explainable AI, applications of natural language processing, and creative aspects of formal methods. Her current focus is on investigating the development of novel models of human-computer co-creation in the arts where bidirectional communication channels play an intrinsic role in enhancing the interactions between humans and machines. Teresa's work has been used for the production of the West End musical ‘Beyond the Fence’, conceived as the world’s first computer generated musical, and the TV documentary ‘Computer Says Show’ filmed by Sky Arts, an art-oriented television channel broadcasted in the UK.
    Professor of Computer Science and Pro-Warden (International) at Goldsmiths, University of London
    Mark d'Inverno has spent the last 20 years undertaking cutting-edge research at the frontiers of AI, creativity and learning – asking how they relate to each other and how the different academic disciplines can provide us with insights into the role we want AI to play in both learning and creative practice. Mark's PhD from UCL investigated the concepts of agency and autonomy in artificial systems, and since then he has published around peer-reviewed 200 articles and several authored and edited books (including the book "Computers and Creativity” with Jon McCormack). Mark is an academic at Goldsmiths, University of London (and formerly the Pro-Warden for Research) whose alumni who have contributed to the creative and cultural industries nationally and internationally - where he was leading on developing the College's international profile. Before his current role, Mark led the Department of Computing, renowned for pioneering new programmes at the cutting edge of new technologies and creative practice. He is a critically acclaimed jazz pianist (National Press, TV and Radio) and for nearly 40 years has led a variety of successful bands in a range of different musical genres.
    Programme Director, Computer Science BSc online at Goldsmiths, University of London
    Dr Matthew Yee-King (DPhil, MSc, BSc) is an academic in the department of computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the programme director for the BSc Computer Science online degree, which launched in 2019 on the Coursera platform, where it was the first undergraduate degree available. He has carried out research into signal processing and creative applications of machine learning, including a series of commissioned musical AI systems that have performed alongside human musicians on BBC national radio and at venues such as the Wellcome Collection in London. He has worked as an electronic musician, releasing solo and collaborative recordings on Warp, Rephlex and Accidental records and touring internationally in Europe, Japan and even Venezuela.
    Founder & Managing Director
    State Studio
    Christian is founder and director at STATE and responsible for creative concepts and strategy. With a background in physics and a lifelong passion for arts & culture, Christian has founded STATE in 2014 to stimulate exchange around relevant topics of cutting-edge research and facilitate creativity without borders. After graduating from TU Berlin, Christian received a PhD in Applied Physics researching on novel semiconductors as Marie-Curie Fellow at Aalto University, Helsinki. He is a visiting faculty member at the European Center for Executive Development (CECEP) and works with executives and change-makers to envision sustainable futures. Christian is active fellow of the Responsible Leaders network of the BMW Foundation, cultural partner of the United Nations AI for Good Global Summit and ambassador for the US-based XPRIZE Foundation


22 Oct 2020


CEST, Geneva
11:00 - 12:30