Humans and AI team up to complete Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony/ Humans + Tech - #100

+ We need concrete protections from artificial intelligence threatening human rights + The CIA and NSA use adblockers to stay safe online + Other interesting articles from around the web


I was fascinated reading how musicologists, computer scientists, and AI worked together to complete Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony. They will release the full recording on Oct 9, 2021. Read more below.

How a team of musicologists and computer scientists completed Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony

For the past two years, a group of scientists at the creative AI startup Playform AI taught a machine both Beethoven’s entire body of work and his creative process in a combined effort between humans and AI to complete Beethoven’s 10th Symphony [Ahmed Elgammal, The Conversation].

The AI side of the project – my side – found itself grappling with a range of challenging tasks.

First, and most fundamentally, we needed to figure out how to take a short phrase, or even just a motif, and use it to develop a longer, more complicated musical structure, just as Beethoven would have done. For example, the machine had to learn how Beethoven constructed the Fifth Symphony out of a basic four-note motif.

Next, because the continuation of a phrase also needs to follow a certain musical form, whether it’s a scherzo, trio or fugue, the AI needed to learn Beethoven’s process for developing these forms.

The to-do list grew: We had to teach the AI how to take a melodic line and harmonize it. The AI needed to learn how to bridge two sections of music together. And we realized the AI had to be able to compose a coda, which is a segment that brings a section of a piece of music to its conclusion.

Finally, once we had a full composition, the AI was going to have to figure out how to orchestrate it, which involves assigning different instruments for different parts.

And it had to pull off these tasks in the way Beethoven might do so.


At one point, one of the music experts on the team said that the AI reminded him of an eager music student who practices every day, learns, and becomes better and better.

They will release the full recording of Beethoven’s 10th Symphony on Oct 9, 2021.

We need concrete protections from artificial intelligence threatening human rights

The proliferation of AI tools has resulted in an increased violation of human rights. Algorithms consistently violate human rights through racial bias, gender bias, privacy violations, and wrongful convictions [Karine Gentelet and Sarit K. Mizrahi, The Conversation].

The reasons are many. Ethics are informed by values, which vary across cultures and companies. And ethical frameworks are not enforceable. Human rights laws protect against government intrusions, but not intrusions by companies. AI regulations focus on operational risks and not human rights violations.

Just because operational risks are minimal doesn’t mean that human rights risks are non-existent. At its core, this approach is anchored in inequality. It stems from an attitude that conceives of fundamental freedoms as negotiable.

So the question remains: why is it that such human rights violations are permitted by law? Although many countries possess charters that protect citizens’ individual liberties, those rights are protected against governmental intrusions alone. Companies developing AI systems aren’t obliged to respect our fundamental freedoms. This fact remains despite technology’s growing presence in ways that have fundamentally changed the nature and quality of our rights.

The recommended approach is to design technology solutions based on social justice and human dignity.

One approach gaining traction is known as “Human Rights By Design.” Here, “companies do not permit abuse or exploitation as part of their business model.” Rather, they “commit to designing tools, technologies, and services to respect human rights by default.”

Hopefully, many companies across the globe adopt this approach for the benefit of humanity.

The CIA and NSA use adblockers to stay safe online

Members of the intelligence community, including the NSA, use adblockers to defend against malicious ads that can sometimes contain malware that compromises devices and privacy [Joseph Cox, VICE].

It turns out, the NSA, CIA, and other agencies in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) are also blocking ads potentially for the same sorts of reasons.

The IC, which also includes the parts of the FBI, DEA, and DHS, and various DoD elements, has deployed ad-blocking technology on a wide scale, according to a copy of a letter sent by Congress and shared with Motherboard.


With malvertising, hackers upload a malicious advertisement to an ad network, which then distributes it to targets. Previous cases of malvertising have redirected victims to exploit kits, which then break into the victim's computer to steal data.

In addition, Motherboard has reported on how data brokers may obtain information via a process called real-time bidding. Before an advertisement is placed into a person's app or browsing session, companies bid on whether their own advert will win the ad spot. As part of that process, participating companies can gather data on people, known as bidstream data, even if they don't win the ad placement. Motherboard previously reported that Venntel, a U.S. government contractor, obtains some of its location data from the real-time bidding process.

One of the major concerns is that foreign intelligence could leverage these ad networks.

Other interesting articles from around the web

🇮🇳 Indian state cuts off internet for millions to stop cheating in exams [Simon Sharwood, The Register]

To prevent cheating by teachers in the Rajasthan Eligibility Exam for Teachers (REET), the Indian State of Rajasthan cut off internet access to all of its residents.

The Register has sourced and translated one of the notices imposing the internet shutdown. It requires blocking internet services, messaging apps, and social media. Voice calls were permitted, as were wired internet connections (but as we reported last week, just 24 million of India's 808 million broadband subscriptions are wired).

The imposed outage did not go down well.

The Indian Software Freedom Law Centre objected on grounds that "Internet shutdowns are bound to cause economic loss, an impact on education, healthcare and other welfare schemes.

"An internet shutdown during a pandemic can be especially grave considering citizens depend on the internet to get information, work and study."

These actions are ridiculous because teachers have access to the internet when they teach, so shutting down the internet to prevent cheating defies logic—at the same time, inconveniencing everyone else in the state at the same time.

📍 There’s a multibillion-dollar market for your phone’s location data [John Keegan and Alfred Ng, The Markup]

Any app on your phone could be harvesting data on your location and activities to sell to companies that sell and trade this data.

Location firm Near describes itself as “The World’s Largest Dataset of People’s Behavior in the Real-World,” with data representing “1.6B people across 44 countries.” Mobilewalla boasts “40+ Countries, 1.9B+ Devices, 50B Mobile Signals Daily, 5+ Years of Data.” X-Mode’s website claims its data covers “25%+ of the Adult U.S. population monthly.”

In an effort to shed light on this little-monitored industry, The Markup has identified 47 companies that harvest, sell, or trade in mobile phone location data. While hardly comprehensive, the list begins to paint a picture of the interconnected players that do everything from providing code to app developers to monetize user data to offering analytics from “1.9 billion devices” and access to datasets on hundreds of millions of people. Six companies claimed more than a billion devices in their data, and at least four claimed their data was the “most accurate” in the industry.

🧠 AI is outperforming humans in both IQ and creativity in 2021 [MarTechSeries]

Publicly accessible AI models are 40% higher than humans on complex trivia and 15% higher than the average college applicant on the SAT.

“In terms of intelligence, AI really is the rising tide lifting all boats. Its structure and outputs are aligned with the working of the human brain. AI has the capacity to lift every person on Earth by levelling the playing field of IQ, and this will become apparent as our biological intelligence is integrated with AI through brain interfacing,” explained Dr Thompson.

Last month, an AI named ‘Leta’ (named after professor of gifted education, Leta Hollingworth) co-presented a seminar with Dr Thompson called ‘The new irrelevance of intelligence’ at the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children conference. Leta is an AI powered by Emerson, using the GPT-3 language model. Backed by information from entire libraries, academic journals, encyclopaedias, and the web, it has the ability to answer any question, and have insightful conversations. The AI is also extremely creative, developing new concepts, new poems, and writing new stories instantly. It can detect tone, interpret body language descriptions, and using related models can even ‘see’ and interpret images.

Quote of the week

“From writing novels to discovery during litigation, it’s clear that AI is already replacing an array of tasks that were once for humans. These include processes in nearly all fields like professional services, teaching, counselling, legal, and the arts.”

—Dr Alan D. Thompson, AI expert and consultant and former chairman of Mensa International’s gifted families, from the article, “AI is outperforming humans in both IQ and creativity in 2021

I wish you a brilliant day ahead :)