It seems like machines can do almost everything that humans can do. The recent development by Ping An Technology, a subsidiary company of China’s second-biggest life insurance institution, ushers the entry of artificial intelligence into creative arts. The company created an award-winning algorithm, which can produce original melodies upon studying hundreds of piano music pieces.
For Ping An Technology, the algorithm is just the begin, as it seeks not only to create virtual singers but also write original pop music centered on individual tastes. Even so, the company’s long-term goal entails writing a symphony with the potential to challenge Beethoven.
According to Ping An Technology’s chief scientist, Xiao Jing, the improvement of the AI system will help users to come up with whatever music they like, as long as the company knows the type of singers and genre of music they like.
Ping An Technology was created in 2008 to operate as an in-house supplier of information technology services to all companies within the Ping An Group umbrella. The company has significant interests in AI, particularly the development of applications like voice recognition and facial recognition. Currently, Ping An Technology’s new mission not only involves improving the group’s business but also exporting its knowledge and expertise to other manufacturing firms, public utilities, and financial institutions. Nevertheless, it only targets those organizations that are adapting to the digital era in the midst of China’s national push to become a global leader in AI by 2020 and Beijing’s Internet Plus strategy.
At the heart of Ping An Technology’s development strategy lies the application of AI technology in music composition. The reason for this is owed to the insurance company’s executives who view music and songs as a strong weapon for improving user stickiness amongst its more than 400 million customers who rely on the group for occasional insurance and financial-related services.
Currently, about 600-700 of Ping An Technology’s 8,000 employees are looking into big data and AI. Although Xiao failed to reveal the company’s level of investment in AI, he highlighted that over 50 billion yuan, equivalent to US $7.9billion, has already been used to cater to R&D in the past decade. In turn, this endeavor has generated an array of innovation to cut costs and boost business efficiency. Furthermore, Ping An Technology has also applied AI-powered solutions in its customer service center, which receives over a million calls a day.
Regardless of moving into the music industry late, Ping An Technology is not concerned about the already existing live music streaming websites that are operated by leading Internet giants like Alibaba Group Holdings and Tencent Holdings. Although these sites have made AI-powered music recommendations the norm, especially in China, they are yet to utilize AI in music composition.
According to Xiao, it is hard to teach machines the difference between good and bad music. Nevertheless, he said that AI-composed music could find its way into both television and films. Also, Xiao added that AI would not phase out composers but instead it would provide them with a vast pool of inspiration.