The 404 1,077: Where we scrape the Surface (podcast)

Will electronic musicians like Skrillx and Deadmau5 soon be replaced by music that evolves and writes itself? On today's 404 episode, the guys get a taste of the Microsoft Surface tablet, speculate about the future of public transportation, and more!


Acoustic Monster

The mystery of the magic Microsoft device is finally solved, but what's with all the unanswered questions? In trying to add fuel to the Surface hype machine, Microsoft leaves too much to the industry's collective imagination as we all keep speculating about the tablets' battery life, release dates, prices, and UI experience.

The competition among tablets is still presently in favor of the iPad, so we're hoping that Microsoft has more compelling announcements in the future that integrate some of the company's other inventions .

Jeff and I always fight about which popular musician deserves credit for this generation's aural decay, but the Imperial College in London may have a solution to our problem: let computers compose the music!

A team of researchers believe that digital music can move beyond human creation and evolve autonomously without a real composer. They've developed a learning computer algorithm that continuously creates and combines loops in a random sequence.

The results are field-tested with human ears to separate the cacophonous sounds from the pleasing ones, then the whole process starts again for thousands of iterations before the computer spits out a refined piece that's statistically pleasing to "everyone." Of course, there's always going to be outliers in personal taste, but check out the evolution of the process and let us know what you think of the final song! Is this the future of generic pop music?


Episode 1,077

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