By now, everyone is probably familiar with holographic performances from such artists as Elvis, Micheal Jackson and the one that started it all, Tupac Shakur at Coachella. However, the real pioneers of performance holograms were that quirky cartoon band, Gorillaz. The costs of a holographic setup would make your toes curl, but the technology itself is fairly straight forward. Projecting onto a specialized screen which is as close to invisible as one can get. There are two main players in the space, Holo-gauzeand Musion.
When it comes to digital artists, there is one name that stands out from all others. Hatsune Miku. What makes Miku so unique when compared to holograms of dead celebrities or even the animated Gorillaz with Blur frontman, Damon Albarn, is that she is entirely computer generated. A software instrument manifest as an anime character who has become as much of a 'real' celebrity as anyone currently in the charts.
Her lyrics are typed into word generator and the pitch programmed with midi. While the enunciation is nowhere near the standard of say East-West - Symphonic Choir, it has not stopped Hatsune Miku from achieving global stardom. So much so that she has opened for Lady Gaga, and sells out concerts around the world, has performed on the David Letterman show and Las Vegas.
Miku, has been around for almost a decade now, although she will forever remain 16 years old, she is already a veteran. What will the next generation of Vocaloid pop stars look like? In the not too distant future, could we see VJ's and music producers joining forces in creating digital artists or bands? Where they can construct an entire narrative around these characters, that can easily be spun off into merchandising, video games and movies.
What about when Artificial Intelligence - AI - is powerful enough to give these digital personalities a level of autonomy and un-programed personality? When Augmented Reality - AR - headsets are in the form factor of sunglasses or contact lenses, these digital humans will break free of the constraints of holographic gauze and be perceived to walk among us, indistinguishable from any other human.
This is not far away either. We are talking 2020. For many creatives, they feel protected from technology with respect to their craft. That AI is incapable of creativity. This is totally untrue and those working in the AI and computer learning fields know full well, that when AI reaches early stages of maturity, AI creativity will quickly surpass that of humans.
While this sounds terrifying, let's not forget that humans are about to enter into a very strange era. We will begin augmenting ourselves with biocomputing. Our brains will not only be connected to the internet but will be able to control technology with our thoughts. Bio-storage made of our own DNA and fully integrated into our bodies will have the capacity to store exabytes of data.
According to a New Scientist article on the subject, one gram of DNA can store 455 exabytes of data. For context, one exabyte is 1,000,000 terabytes. So 455,000,000 terabytes is enough to easily fit all the data from every major tech company such as Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia with room to spare. In fact, it would only require 4 grams of DNA to store all the information in the world.
Imagine, every VST instrument and plugin, every sound bank, every 4k video loop that exists, stored inside you and your Digital Audio Workstation is a Virtual Reality environment connected to your literal 'internal storage' with zero latency. What if we could download creativity enhancers direct to our brain? The same creativity algorithms used in AI could be used with in us, that enhance our natural ability to make sense of color, sound, composition. If we suddenly find ourselves with a creative block, we could activate these creativity enhancers and within our mind, make sense of a hundred pieces of artwork or a thousand songs all at once. We could find hidden patterns and insights impossible to see when works of art are experienced in isolation.
A friend once said to me in a stint of creative depression, "Has every riff, chorus, and lyric already been written? It feels like we are just recycling and remixing the same old ideas. I feel like we are reaching the ceiling of human creativity." In some ways, I agree. We are reaching the end of an age, but entering into a great unknown. A new dimension of art and experience.
If you were already afraid of the coming 'AI apocalypse', and the thought of becoming a human biocomputing hybrid species sounds as far away from awesome as a fart in a space suit, then I am sorry to be the one to paint this picture of the future. But we need to start thinking about this now. Because this reality will be here sooner than we expect and we need to know how this impacts us. Especially with events. It is the last place artists are still able to make money. Do we get the pitch forks and torches out to destroy a creative Skynet or are we going to have to become part machine?
The Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology report indicates that up to 50% of US jobs could be computerised within 20 years. I have not read the report so it is unclear as to the extent the creative sector is expected to be impacted. What I can say, as someone who specializes in how emerging technology impacts the music and event's sector, there is some concern. The greatest concern being that creative's might have a knee-jerk reaction, run for the pitchforks and torches, ready to destroy a creative Skynet, instead of facing this head on. We have some lead time, but not much. We can steer technology in a direction that benefits us rather than makes us obsolete. But it means stepping into some uncomfortable and even scary places.
The only cure for technology-induced anxiety is understanding. So I have included the following video on Human Augmentation to help provide a little more context.