Artificial intelligence (AI) – or at least the optics of its development – have come a long way from the late 20th century and its endless portents of cybernetic overlords harbouring vague malevolent interests. I mean, using humans as batteries? Really? It’s no wonder then that luxury Britsh automakers, Bentley, have hopped onto the AI game – to help their drivers pick out music.
Why not? We trust them in far more serious affairs, with far more on the line. AIs parse petabytes of data, using said data to invest, make leapfrogs in medical advancements, and more. They rear fish, and pick out the tastiest among them. They even create art.
They’re heavily used in the automotive world as well – Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen have signed up with Austrian start-up Prewave to identify and eliminate sustainability risks throughout their supply chain in March this year. The idea of AI-controlled music, then, isn’t really that far-fetched. Especially since the aptly titled Daddy’s Car was composed by an AI half a decade ago – or at least its melody, since the song’s lyrics are still written by flesh and blood.
(Related: How to pair wine with music)
In that vein, The Flying Spur’s struck a deal with music startup Lifescore, whose expertise lies in adaptive music, to enable musical accompaniment in their first electric vehicle that’s never out of place, whether you’re out for a relaxed Sunday afternoon drive, or engaging in more vivacious forms of curbside travel.
Though we call it picking out music, what we really mean is rewriting songs on the fly to match the ebb and flow of your vehicle inputs – think engine torque, gear-shift pattern and acceleration, along with your car’s locations and surrounding conditions to algorithmically compose a bespoke symphony on the go.
They’re not creating said symphony out of thin air though. Music will be carved from an extensive library of audio elements courtesy of the world-renowned Abbey Road Studios (yes, the Beatles’ Abbey Road), who’ve recorded the audio from a mix of contemporary and classical instruments with more than 50 microphones in full sphere surround sound. Various permutations of these elements can give riders more than 100 billion unique music tracks. Which just about guarantees you’ll never be listening to the same song twice, as that’s more than the number of stars in the starry night sky.
The electric Bentley of the future will have two different audio modes, depending on the kind of custom music experience you’re looking for. There’s Cocoon, for a calmer, subtler experience, and Enhanced, which ups the sensitivity of the music-composing software, and therefore the vigour of any resulting composition.
The jury’s out on whether the driver still gets to veto undesirable tracks – hopefully our AI buddies riding shotgun don’t bear any grudges – but do note that Bentley’s already got a demonstrable proof-of-concept car out there. Like most forms of advanced machine learning and their ilk, these systems only improve the more we use them – so expect far greater once Bentley and Lifescore have had the time to run it through its paces.