Huawei AI channels Schubert to finish the ‘unfinished symphony’


Franz Schubert’s Symphony No 8 in B minor D.759 is known as the unfinished symphony. Huawei using its AI expertise and its Mate 20 Pro smartphone finished the 197-year-old masterpiece.

Huawei’s version of Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 ran an AI model using the processing power of the dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit) in the Huawei Mate20 Pro smartphone (review here) specificallly built for AI tasks.

AI went to work analysing the timbre, pitch and metre of the existing first and second movements of the symphony. It then generated the melody for the final, missing third and fourth movements.

Huawei then worked with Emmy award-winning composer Lucas Cantor, to arrange an orchestral score from the melody that stayed true to the style of Schubert’s Symphony No. 8. 

Larking Huang, Managing Director of Huawei Australia Consumer Business Group, said,

“We are always searching for ways in which technology can make the world a better place. So, we taught our Mate20 Pro smartphone to analyse a nearly 200-year-old piece of music and to finish it in the style of the original composer”.

Composer Lucas Cantor said,

“My role was to draw out the AI’s good ideas and fill in the gaps to ensure the final output was ready to be played by a symphony orchestra. The result of this collaboration with AI proves that technology offers incredible possibilities and the significant and positive impact it can have on modern culture.”

GadgetGuy’s take: This is the tip of the AI iceberg

If a smartphone, yes it is currently the worlds most advanced smartphone, has the power to do this you have to wonder what else is possible?

The answer is that AI is already in everyday use primarily as a decision support system until we trust it to substitute for human decision makers.

AI is already here

  • Facebook to scrapes every last fact about you (called a profile) and to serve relevant advertisements to you
  • Google to do the same
  • Netflix recommendations
  • Amazon recommendations
  • Spam filtering on Outlook 365 and Gmail
  • Bank fraud detection for unusual credit card activity
  • Share market monitoring and computer trading
  • Siri, OK Google, Alexa, Cortana, Bixby and LG ThinQ are thinly disguised AI
  • Self-driving cars, trains and soon aircraft
  • IoT clouds
  • Cyber-crime has some of the best AI on the planet

The nirvana is a Turing test – a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. The first computer to pass that test emulated a 14-year-old Ukrainian boy back in 2014.

Analysts say that OK Google (well Google Duplex) could already do that, but the world is not yet ready for it.

Congratulations to Huawei for showing its ready to play in grown-up world. You can count on future smartphone supremacy being dependent on its AI capabilities.