Will artificial intelligence ever understand human taste?

With regret I’ve come to realise I’m neither interesting nor entertaining enough to be picked as a mainstream media presenter. Given that I enjoy broadcasting, my response has been to try to develop new formats. After all, if I help design the show it seems only fair that I present it. Sometimes these programmes have succeeded but as with most new formats the risks of falling flat are high. It was my fascination with failure that kept me watching a recent BBC documentary, but the show was significant for a more important reason.  The programme in question was ‘The Secret Science of Pop’  (first shown in February but repeated last week) and it was presented by the very engaging Professor Armand Leroi from Imperial College. The concept behind the show was compelling. Professor Leroi and a group of his brightest students were going to use big data analysis and machine learning not only to discover the secret of pop success but to help an unsigned artist produce a guaranteed hit. To my growing viewing delight, the project was an abject failure. The research team analysed all 17,000 songs that have entered the charts in the last sixty years deriving over…

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