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Rise of AI-assisted art raises challenges notions of proprietary rights

Kyodo

Artificial intelligence is finding its way into the world of music, literature and art, raising never-before-considered questions about a creator’s role.

A team led by Shigeki Sagayama, professor of mathematical engineering and information physics at Tokyo’s Meiji University, has created software that can compose a melody to accompany any given lyric.

Available for use online, the automatic composition software, named Orpheus, has produced hundreds of thousands of pieces of music since its launch in 2007.

Sagayama has developed a method to produce melodies based on the cadence of the Japanese language. He said AI works well in the field of musical composition, as the established theories, rules and systems, such as harmonics, make programming feasible.

Orpheus users can set the parameters, adjusting pitch and beat patterns to reflect the character of the music they wish to produce, he said.

Sagayama has also “composed” a song with Orpheus and has released it online.

AI is also breaking ground in literature.

A research team from Nagoya University, led by engineering professor Satoshi Sato, caused a sensation in 2015 when a novel written by AI technology cleared the first round of a literary competition.

The researchers first created a plot while the software wrote sentences based on it. In 2016, AI technology created both the plot and the sentences.

“It’s a step forward,” said Sato.

The use of AI in creative endeavors, however, has raised questions about intellectual property. Who owns the work created by AI? And is it art?

Sagayama said music produced with Orpheus cannot “belong” to the program because the system is no more than “a tool for composition.”

The copyright question has also come to the attention of a government panel on intellectual property rights.

A member of the panel, Tatsuhiro Ueno, professor of law at Waseda University, said under the existing law there is no copyright on AI-made art.

Ueno, however, said there isn’t a clear distinction between something made by a human alone and something made with AI assistance.

It should be determined by “how extensively humans are involved,” he said.

“The concept of authors (or composers or artists) may become less important,” Tama Art University professor Akihiro Kubota said, foreshadowing what he thinks will be a range of new art forms created through human-AI collaborations.

Kubota and his team developed one such creative project when they sent into space a microsatellite carrying AI software which composed music and poetry based on temperature and other data.

These compositions were then transmitted to Earth, where Kubota translated them into sculpture.

“By looking at (art) made by AI, the creativity of humans may be enhanced,” said Kubota.