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New AI creates original music by looking at pictures

A new AI from the Google of China, Baidu, deconstructs pictures and uses the visual elements within to create original music.

Could computers be capable of creating art? This new AI from Chinese search-engine giant Baidu seems to be able to do just that.

In a new exhibit at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Baidu's new AI is analysing photos and paintings and creating entirely original musical arrangements based on the imagery it sees.

Baidu, often called the Google of China, is the country's largest search-engine provider. It comprises China's "big three" internet companies alongside Alibaba and Tencent. It's project is another example of what AI can do -- months after Google's AlphaGo artificial intelligence won four out of five games in Go against world champion player Lee Sedol.

Speaking to Tech in Asia, Baidu said that the AI does its job by deconstructing the elements of a picture and then looking at individual elements (people, structures, colours and so on). It then decides on the theme, mood and sense of the picture, be it contemplative, aggressive, inspirational or otherwise.

After the AI makes these decisions, it's able to access a massive database of musical scores that are categorized by the "emotion" they illicit. All the AI does after that is join the musical snippets in its vast database to its analysis of the picture's visuals.