Stop Player, Joke #4
October 6, 2019 12:35 PM   Subscribe

As the perforated rolls of the player piano prefigured the punch cards of early computing, so, too, have they shaped how we talk about creative machines. Like the ghostly hands that played upon pianola keys, AI art stokes deep cultural anxieties about the risks automation poses to human activity. Ultimately, we fear that they will replace us, whether at the factory or at the canvas. From Ghost Hands, Player Pianos, and the Hidden History of AI by Vanessa Chang [LARB] posted by chavenet (5 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If weaving is art you shouldn't start with player pianos. Jacquard looms came at the beginning of the 19th century. Perforated cards replaced the draw boy, instructing the loom to lift particular warp threads in order to create complex weaves. The mechanism is seen as an important step in the development of computing.
posted by Botanizer at 1:03 PM on October 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

I love Gaddis, and Stop Player, Joke #4 is a great introduction to one of his major themes.
posted by hilberseimer at 5:25 PM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's a relevant article about ai and punning from the arxiv.
posted by TreeRooster at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

If writing poetry is art, you shouldn't start with Jacquard Looms.

The "Writer" automaton by Jacquet-Droz (still held by the Musee d'Art et de Histoire in Neuchatel, Switzerland) was created in the early 1770s. When wound up, the "writer," a figure of a small boy at a writing desk, dips his pen in ink and writes phrases of up to 40 letters. The phrases are programmable - i.e., they can be changed.

Similar automata from the era drew pictures or played music - there's a famous Flute-Player.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 6:09 PM on October 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

After listening to You Can't Take My Door, a country song composed by AI, my fear of artistic displacement has dissipated.
posted by JParker at 10:34 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

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