Raison d'être in the age of Ultron

The day the legendary Lee Sedol finally won a game against Google's AlphaGo, I posted a video clip on my Facebook page that drew quite some responses:

This is the video recording of a live concert by a relatively unknown Korean pianist, Won Kim, playing one of the most technically challenging piano piece in the history of classical music – Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor.

I posted this video on my FB because it's one of the several emotional performances of this piece. Most of the time pianists have had enough in technical aspect to deal with that they don't always have the room for emotion, despite the fact that this masterpiece by the Russian maestro is very emotional by itself. As a result, most live performances of this piece ended up either like a battle between the pianists and the composer, or like a perfectly mechanical interpretation of the scores.

South Korea, for what it's worth, has produced many technically perfect pianists in the modern history. These trained machines went around the world and won all sorts of international piano competitions. Few among them, however, went on to become long-lasting, well-respected musicians.

It's only fitting that on the day when a Korean barely held off a machine they made in a human game that was supposed to be unbreakable, that I found salvation to this whole AI end-game scenario in a Korean pianist's performance.

The phrase you're looking for is art.

In this performance by Won Kim, we see virtuosity in keyboards, collaboration with the orchestra and viral emotional responses all at the same time. We're pretty sure that this can't be produced 100% again in another performance, nor is it necessary. One of the beautiful things about live performance is that every fleeting moment could be once in a lifetime, it could be that raison d'être.

And this video clip surely shows that, at least to me.

It's hard to believe that a machine would eventually be able to create similar multi-party interaction driven both by skills and hormones, running at speeds that affect one another. A machine could easily play Rachmaninov to perfection. It could probably mix it with an AI-driven tempo rubato that seems random but is actually planned. However, it's hard to imagine that it will be able to go through more than 14 minutes of constant orgasm in a group sex setting that could and should only happen once in a lifetime.

It's that gesture by the rugby player which gives Paloma Josse the reason of being in the novel « The Elegance of the Hedgehog ».

It's that highly inexplicable moment of revelation that descends upon us during the long walk along La Seine.

It's art, something that AI probably would never be able to recreate, that ensures the meaning of beings.

So let AI take the world. Let it shoulder all the workloads. Let it free us from any duty to meet the needs for subsistence – because we already have plenty to occupy ourselves in a lifetime, be it in counterpoint or in the fugues.

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