The robot was taught to rap

An independent researcher from the USA presented a robot that can compose hip-hop lyrics and participate in battles. It only takes seven seconds to generate text.

Gil Weinberg, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, introduced a musical robot named Shimon, who writes and performs rap lyrics. Simultaneously, the device can participate in rap battles and even compose lyrics on the go. The scientist noted that Shimon was developed specifically for composing rap lyrics, while this is the only such device in the world.

In addition to the semantic content, the texts of the robot should be in a single rhythm and at the same time have deep meaning, the engineer notes. In a recent article published in the 11th International Conference on Computational Creativity 2020, Weinberg’s research team talks about the technical details that led to the robot’s creation.

During rap battles, the software converts its opponent’s spoken language into text. The robot’s system identifies keywords and generates new texts based on several custom word sets Shimon learned from. These datasets can be obtained from any text: Lil Wayne, JAY-Z, other rappers, texts from other genres, or even non-musical literary works.

The robot’s systems need to be fast and responsive to another rapper’s words without compromising on the quality of the text. To do this, the researchers made several tough software decisions, such as limiting Shimon’s vocabulary to about 3 thousand words and truncating the time during which Shimon would “listen” to his opponent. Now Shimon can read the response text within seven seconds. An upgrade and a more powerful GPU will make this process faster.

Rhys Langston, a rapper and multimedia artist who was not involved in the project, noted that he could draw inspiration from the robot’s texts. However, he suggests that some of the musicians’ creativity also depends on the human factor, which is difficult to learn devices. Langston added that sometimes mistakes “open up new possibilities for creativity, but can a machine be taught to make mistakes?”

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