We rarely recognize how wonderful it is that a person can traverse an entire lifetime without making a single really serious mistake—like putting a fork in one’s eye or using a window instead of a door.

–Marvin Minsky (The Society of Mind)

Music in Search of AI & Marvin Minsky

Some­time dur­ing the ‘90s I decided to set Mar­vin Minsky’s The Soci­ety of Mind to music. I did. This is not that piece.

What this piece is, is music I wrote while search­ing for Minsky’s The Soci­ety of Mind. You see, dur­ing the early to mid-‘90s you couldn’t just hop on over to your near­est com­put­ery device and order every book that had ever existed and have it deliv­ered in two days for free while watch­ing the lat­est episode of some TV show or some­thing. You had to work to find books.

Let’s back up a lit­tle. I had read an inter­view with Min­sky, of Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence fame, where he talked about his book and how no one had read it. I decided to not only read it but set it to music. Hur­rah for me! Unfor­tu­nately the book was not so easy to come by. So while search­ing1 I decided to write some music about the search. That is this piece.

Min­sky had men­tioned his enthu­si­asm for Bach so I took var­i­ous bits of Bach, altered them in var­i­ous ways I can no longer remem­ber the specifics of, and put them all together. The result is some­thing that sounds Baroque but very wrong. A kind of exper­i­men­tal Baroque, one might say.

There is also text that accom­pa­nies the piece2 that is made up of quotes from that inter­view with Minsky.

Go here to lis­ten to or down­load the music/sheet music.

  1. Spoiler alert! I did even­tu­ally find the book! I think it took like a year?
  2. You’ll have to down­load the pdf to read it.

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