What Do Machines Hear When They Listen to Music?

The hot new trend in self-learning algorithms—a technology that’s embedded in our phones, our social networks, and more—is trying to figure out how the hell it works. The thing is that the algorithms known as neural networks are essentially black boxes. We’ve developed the high-level concepts that govern them and designed the networks themselves, but picking apart decisions that they make on their own is intensely difficult due to their internal complexity. As impressive as these systems are, however, they’re not perfect, and to make them better we need to understand what makes them tick. The latest attempt at tearing the top off of a computational black box was published to the ArXiv preprint server this week by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London in the UK. They…

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