AI and Music Education
By Zachary Keita, NAfME Advocacy and Public Policy Communications Manager
The dawn of the 21st century brought with it a wave of technological advancement such as mobile phones, the Internet, and globalized communication. All these tools work together to make information more accessible than ever before in human history. Countless industries have benefitted from this newfound availability of information, including the education sector. The Internet provides students with a wealth of information from which to draw, while teachers can access a breadth and depth of resources that dwarf what was available to their 20th century counterparts. These technological advances have fundamentally changed the classroom dynamic and will continue to do so as long as technological evolution persists at such a rapid pace.
The latest breakthrough advancement in technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), has the potential to upend the education system as we know it. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) defines AI as “automation based on associations,” while IBM defines AI as “a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets, to enable problem-solving.” The common thread between these definitions is the ability of AI to automate problem-solving based on associations drawn from robust data sets.
As new technology becomes integrated into everyday life, it’s important for educators to understand the potential implications for their students and their classrooms. Recently, AI has begun to make its way into the music space, lowering the barriers to entry for music creators even further by enabling high-quality production without the need for professional equipment. Currently, there are several AI-powered programs capable of generating instrumental soundtracks based on text prompts. AI in the music space also brings a host of new copyright concerns. Recently a U.S. federal judge ruled that “AI-generated art cannot be copyrighted,” noting that AI-created works lacked human authorship, which is a “requirement of copyright.”
As it concerns the music education classroom, AI has the potential to revolutionize how music is taught. Currently, there are several AI-powered programs that would enable students to create their own music with minimal input from educators. Examples of AI being used in the music education space are limited, but NAfME will continue to track policy and regulatory developments concerning AI in education, particularly around its potential use in the music classroom.
Types of AI
At this point in time, AI can be broken down into three categories: Narrow or Weak AI, General or Strong AI, and Artificial Superintelligence. The two latter categories of AI are purely theoretical, as no such system has been developed. General or Strong AI would possess human-like cognitive abilities and be able to apply knowledge across a wide range of topics, while an Artificial Superintelligence would possess cognitive abilities that surpass that of a human and be able to perform tasks that we currently consider impossible. In the next section we will focus on the type of AI currently available and rising in prevalence, the Narrow or Weak AI.
Narrow or Weak AI
All currently available forms of AI fall into the Narrow or Weak category, defined as “AI designed to perform a specific task or a narrow range of tasks.” This type of AI has been available for over a decade and has become a tool used in everyday life. Examples of Narrow AI include virtual personal assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc.), customer service chatbots, autonomous vehicles, and language translation programs. Besides autonomous vehicles, all given examples of narrow AI have been integrated into daily life seamlessly. There has been no need for legislation heavily regulating the use of Siri or translation programs, as their use is rather limited. The more recent models of AI, such as ChatGPT, are capable of writing papers from simple prompts, solving complex math problems, and much more.
The recent political fervor around AI comes as a result of the latest breakthrough in AI technology, Large Language Models (LLM), becoming widely available to the public. Rather than explain an LLM, I will demonstrate its utility.
The following section was generated using OpenAI’s ChatGPT, posing the question, “What is a Large Language Model?”
“A large language model refers to a type of artificial intelligence (AI) model that has been trained on vast amounts of text data to understand, generate, and manipulate human language. These models use advanced machine learning techniques, particularly in the field of natural language processing (NLP), to capture patterns, relationships, and semantics present in written text.
Large language models can perform a wide range of language-related tasks, such as text generation, translation, summarization, sentiment analysis, question answering, and more. They learn to generate coherent and contextually relevant text based on the patterns they have identified in the training data. These models are often used as the foundation for various AI applications that require understanding and interaction with human language.”
Effect on Education
A main point of contention in the debate around AI is its potential effect on education. Specifically, the ability of LLMs like ChatGPT to generate “human-like” responses to prompts of varying complexity might potentially become one of the greatest tools for teaching available to educators, or, alternatively, an easily accessible tool to enable academic misconduct for students.
How AI will impact education depends on how AI goes on to be regulated at the federal level and within school districts. For now, there is no comprehensive legislation from Congress that governs the use of AI in education, though we can certainly expect such bills to be introduced in the near future. Upon the initial release of ChatGPT in the fall of last year, we saw schools scramble to try and prevent students from accessing this new tool. At the time, ChatGPT’s potential to facilitate academic misconduct outweighed its possible benefits. Most notably, the Department of Education in New York City issued a blanket ban for ChatGPT on school devices and networks in January 2023. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) went on to rescind its ban of ChatGPT in May 2023, signaling a shift in attitudes around AI’s use in education. Moving forward, NYC DOE will encourage the use of AI by educators and students, while sharing resources around the successful integration of AI in the classroom.
AI in Music Education
In response to AI entering the creative space, the “Human Artistry Campaign” has formed to advocate on behalf of the responsible use of AI in supporting rather than replacing human expression. The Human Artistry Campaign is comprised of more than 150 organizations representing industries such as journalism, photography, music, art, and copyright sectors. Together, these organizations developed “Core Principles for AI Applications In Support of Human Creativity and Accomplishment.”
- TECHNOLOGY HAS LONG EMPOWERED HUMAN EXPRESSION, AND AI WILL BE NO DIFFERENT
- HUMAN-CREATED WORKS WILL CONTINUE TO PLAY AN ESSENTIAL ROLE IN OUR LIVES
- USE OF COPYRIGHTED WORKS, AND THE USE OF VOICES AND LIKENESSES OF PROFESSIONAL PERFORMERS, REQUIRES AUTHORIZATION AND FREE MARKET LICENSING FROM ALL RIGHTSHOLDERS
- GOVERNMENTS SHOULD NOT CREATE NEW COPYRIGHT OR OTHER IP EXEMPTIONS THAT ALLOW AI DEVELOPERS TO EXPLOIT CREATORS WITHOUT PERMISSION OR COMPENSATION
- COPYRIGHT SHOULD ONLY PROTECT THE UNIQUE VALUE OF HUMAN INTELLECTUAL CREATIVITY
- TRUSTWORTHINESS AND TRANSPARENCY ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE SUCCESS OF AI AND PROTECTION OF CREATORS
- CREATORS’ INTERESTS MUST BE REPRESENTED IN POLICYMAKING
Artificial intelligence sits at the cutting edge of computing technology and has already demonstrated its ability to impact various aspects of daily life, one of those being education. Upon initial release of the technology, many school districts scrambled to ban AI while they figured out its application for students. Now that educators are beginning to recognize the potential benefits of AI, it will only be a matter of time until it becomes widely integrated into school systems. NAfME will continue to monitor AI developments and provide our members with the latest information on AI policy, regulation, and its application for teaching and creating music.
September 15, 2023
September 15, 2023. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)