Other than locking themselves home, you probably wouldn’t think musicians could otherwise help fight the calamity that is the coronavirus. MIT scientists, though, beg to disagree…
AI + Music = coronavis cure (eventually)
Science reports that MIT researches are using AI to turn the coronavirus protein into a musical composition which you can listen to right now. The researchers claim this helps them study the virus faster and more effectively. The amino acids building the virus’ protein are assigned notes which an AI algorithm turns into music. The method is described as capturing the amino acids’ alterations by changing the duration and volume of notes as heat-induced molecular vibrations also get their own musical representations.
This sure sounds like a recipe for the next out-there virtual synth! Speaking of which, the sound of a Japanese koto, which is the instrument playing the main notes, was chosen for its soothing sound that “might bring some comfort in a time of trouble.”
Using this approach, researchers can potentially locate sites on the protein where treatments could bind to it. The treatments are emulated as compositional counterpoints to the virus’ harmony, partially generated by AI algorithms. So, in a way, the team is improvising and writing music to combat the coronavirus. Not unlike like classical composers would write counterpounts to enhance or stylistically change their musical parts.
According to lead researcher professor Markus Buehler, sound is “such an elegant way to access the information stored in a protein.” That’s because the human brain is very efficient at processing sound. That’s because our ears and brains pick up all the information in a sound, such as pitch, timbre, volume, melody, and rhythm immediately and continously.
So there you have it – generative music helps combat COVID-19. Somebody better get Autechre on board the team immediately!