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David Sutton
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« Reply #60 on: March 27, 2009, 05:20:58 PM »
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John, I also wonder how far Mozart would have gone if he hadn't been beaten by his father if he got things wrong. That would have put me off composing, but then the attractions of wealth and fame are also powerful motivators. And sometimes the desire to express oneself can't be denied.
One big factor often overlooked in discussing careers in the arts or indeed any field, is the power of self-belief. I teach a weekly class to children who have been expelled from school. The place they are in is their last resort. Some are there because they have been bad, and some because they were dumped on the streets by their parents (or worse). The thing most lacking is usually the belief that they are bright enough to do anything with their lives. So it gives me great pleasure to say "well, we've got ten minutes left, I'm going to teach you to read music" and then do it.
D
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« Reply #61 on: March 27, 2009, 06:29:18 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Actually, Mozart is one of the people reviewed in one of these books, and it turns out that his compositions are generally viewed as pretty mediocre until he hit his late teens. The author (of whichever book it was that cited the study -- I'm not going into the other room to figure out which one it was) says that Mozart actually appears to have been somewhat of a late bloomer. Because his father was a well-known composer and player of the time, and started Mozart with intense music studies before he was two years old, Mozart put in *way in excess* of his 10,000 while he was still a child, and yet didn't produce any signature works until he was almost twenty. Like Michael Jackson, to cite a contemporary example. Jackson was the lead singer for the "Jackson Five" when he was still a small kid, but didn't make "Thriller" until he was in his twenties...

The studies don't appear to have statistical holes in them; that's what makes them so fascinating. They were published in peer-reviewed journals, and are widely replicated by people who are interested in what causes creativity. The statistics are really quite simple: you take a large enough sample of people from such things as single classes, you follow their progress, you look at the variables, you predict who will do what, and if your predictions work out, the variable is significant. And the only significant variable they've been able to find is practice.

I don't consider that finding particularly strange in creative fields, because the human brain is so malleable, at least when basic intelligence falls within the normal range. What I do find strange is that it even carries over into such fields as sports. Do you know that virtually all Canadian hockey stars are born in January, February and (to a lesser extent) March? Could you figure out why that is rue?  

JC

Would you please explain what being a "late bloomer" has to do with it. Several times I've pointed out that, yes, a lot of hard work is part of it, which certainly can explain why some artists are late bloomers. Turning out significant work at twenty doesn't sound much like "late blooming" to me by the way.

I won't argue about the "studies." Attempting to study something like artistic ability with statistics is a bit like attempting to study the foundations of religious faith with statistics. You can think you're doing it, but there's no way you actually can do it. What you're doing is trying to quantify something that's not quantifiable. In 30 years of computer engineering I've seen that kind of attempt over and over again. The results can appear pretty convincing, but if you look into it you find that the attempt started with an assumption that was based on a subjective idea -- on faith. Even though the data may be perfectly valid and perfectly accurate, what spits out the end is good-looking trash.

Since you haven't given out any information in your profile I don't know whether or not you're Canadian. I lived in Canada for several years and I can tell you why those hockey players are born in January, February and March. In Canada early Spring begins in April, actually shows a bit in May, and blooms in June. And in the Springtime a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to...

So you actually do believe that Chopin, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Beethoven, and Mozart produced some of the world's finest, most touching, striking, most transcendental music simply because they worked hard. That's astonishing!
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« Reply #62 on: March 27, 2009, 06:42:08 PM »
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Quote from: feppe
Your claim that great art requires "talent" lacks a fundamental tenet of science: your claim can not be falsified. While I'm not an arts scholar, I can pretty safely say that any artist who is still remembered after generations, from Da Vinci to Picasso, from Vivaldi to Sibelius has put their 10k hours in it. There might be an outlier or two, artist who has created a substantial body of work without putting in the hours. The only one I know of is Robert Johnson, but he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi...

So we have a chicken and egg problem: since practically all great artists have put in their 10k hours, does that mean all great artists are great because of the 10k, or because of some other factor? Since the connecting factor is the 10k hours, and we have no other mutual characteristic, I believe the onus is on you, Mr Lewis, to falsify the statement that all it takes to be great is the number of hours you put in.

I'm not concerned about the lack of a "fundamental tenet of science." My claim isn't based on science because there's no way science can connect with this kind of thing. If it could, we'd be able to produce a machine, based on science, that can produce art. Do you actually believe that's possible?

As far as the 10K hours is concerned, I've said, over and over again, that that's absolutely necessary -- but not sufficient. So that sort of demolishes the chicken and egg conundrum.

As far as not having any mutual characteristic other than hours put in, you misstate the case: What you really mean is that we have no other measurable characteristic -- which is exactly my point. What makes a great artist a great artist is something that simply isn't measurable. You can't "study" it because you can't come at it with words or mathematics or any other human tool. Therefore,  I don't have to "falsify" anything. Measuring hours of practice misses the point altogether.
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John Camp
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« Reply #63 on: March 27, 2009, 06:42:44 PM »
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Quote from: Taquin
John, I also wonder how far Mozart would have gone if he hadn't been beaten by his father if he got things wrong. That would have put me off composing, but then the attractions of wealth and fame are also powerful motivators. And sometimes the desire to express oneself can't be denied.
One big factor often overlooked in discussing careers in the arts or indeed any field, is the power of self-belief. I teach a weekly class to children who have been expelled from school. The place they are in is their last resort. Some are there because they have been bad, and some because they were dumped on the streets by their parents (or worse). The thing most lacking is usually the belief that they are bright enough to do anything with their lives. So it gives me great pleasure to say "well, we've got ten minutes left, I'm going to teach you to read music" and then do it.
D

Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC

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RSL
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« Reply #64 on: March 27, 2009, 06:46:19 PM »
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Quote from: Taquin
Yes

What??

I think you are confusing the artistic merits of any given artist with your own tastes. You are not an objective reviewer of someone else's artistic abilities. Any more than, say, I am.
What I am saying is that hard work will put you right up there with the top performers. After that the "critics" will argue over you abilities. That's all right. Some will like you and some will not. If leave work behind you in the form of written or recorded music, or photographs, you will also move in and out of fashion as have the composers you mentioned. There often emerges a collective opinion that a certain artist was great, but at the same time a sizeable percentage of the population will still loathe their work. That's all right too. Not being loathed can be enervating for many people. There is no mysterious aura surrounding art. Art just means skill. Look the word up. Do you mean fine art? No mysterious aura there either, unless you are doing self-publicity.  
For myself I can say that some artists convey their feelings well and I am truly moved and the experience is wonderful. And sometimes I am moved but dislike what I am experiencing and  wish the artist had kept their wretched feelings to themselves.
David
BTW, if you think Tiger Wood's abilities are purely mechanical you could perhaps discuss that with any top coach.

Well, I guess you can believe that if you want to, but when, exactly, was Chopin "out of fashion?"

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« Reply #65 on: March 27, 2009, 07:07:23 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC

John,

Aha!!! Also, hear, hear -- about the troubled kids. It would be a splendid idea. Unfortunately it's politically impossible, so the troubled kids will go on, grow up, and produce more troubled kids and so on to infinity. As far as taking away the possibility of becoming an artist or musician, I'm not sure you'd be doing that. I suspect that if one of them really, really wanted that, he'd find a way. I could tell you a story about a young, black, cadet at the Air Force Academy who was an orphan, brought up in various terrible circumstances, told, all his young life, that he was stupid and worthless, and eventually, by his own bootstraps managed to get himself into the Academy. When I met him he was in the Big Brother program, big brothering a problem kid from a problem neighborhood. I never did learn the outcome of that relationship, but I suspect it was a good one.

Your story about your daughter is pretty much why, in high school, I gave up the idea of being a concert pianist. I decided I wanted a life. But I also think I was missing the spark I've been talking about. I took lessons for ten years and then quit cold -- and had a life -- a wonderful life.
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« Reply #66 on: March 27, 2009, 07:13:03 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
I'm not concerned about the lack of a "fundamental tenet of science." My claim isn't based on science because there's no way science can connect with this kind of thing. If it could, we'd be able to produce a machine, based on science, that can produce art. Do you actually believe that's possible?

I'm positive it will happen some day - if it hasn't happened already. If we have monkeys producing art sold at galleries, why not a machine?

The number of abilities unique to humans has diminished over the centuries as we study animals, and the hubris shown in early written texts claiming we are somehow fundamentally different from other species is shown repeatedly to be false. From birds which create tools to monkeys using prostitution to get food. It's the same with machines: first it was tic tac toe, then it was chess and speech recognition, next is game of go, pattern recognition and "creativity."

Perhaps we should devise a Turing Test for art: have a jury give artistic tasks to a contestant, and let the jury determine whether the contestant is a human or a machine based on the results. I'd be willing to be a significant sum of money that a machine will pass as a human within a generation.

Quote
As far as the 10K hours is concerned, I've said, over and over again, that that's absolutely necessary -- but not sufficient. So that sort of demolishes the chicken and egg conundrum.

Again, that statement is not falsifiable, making it as valid as the tooth fairy.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #67 on: March 27, 2009, 07:32:27 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Well, I guess you can believe that if you want to, but when, exactly, was Chopin "out of fashion?"
As far as I know, just before his death. When I was growing up, Chopin was considered "light" music, in the manner of Mantovani. Bit unfair really.
John, I'm also not sure that talent doesn't have a place somewhere. For example, if I take the top 10 players in my field, my guess is that the top 3 of that group may be there by dint of talent, but I really have no evidence for that. There is also the problem with being physically able to be adept at something, and so being selected away from that pursuit at an early age if the physical characteristics are not there. For example, at one of the schools where I teach, they need brass players, so at an early age all pupils are tested to see if they can naturally get a good sound from a trumpet, and those that can are immediately channelled into trumpet lessons. Others who want to do music will usually then go to other instruments. It makes it difficult to assess how someone with little "natural" ability would do. Nevertheless, I've seen people with no apparent ability go far.

Sir Charles Halle told of meeting Gaetano Donizetti when he had already written some forty operas (he was "prolific" to say the least). Halle asked if it was true that Rossini composed the Barbiere in a fortnight. "Oh, I quite believe it" replied Donizetti, "he has always been such a lazy fellow".
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David Sutton
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« Reply #68 on: March 27, 2009, 08:51:38 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC
This is a thoughtful post. I realise we have gotten quite off topic, but I think this is worth pursuing, and we are down here in the "But is it art?" section.  
The "why would someone work so insanely hard" question is a good one, and it has puzzled me for a while.  As we get past our teens, I don't think it has much to do with approval or reinforcement from our peers. I ask myself why, after a really slack period in my teens and twenties, I should take up music from scratch in my thirties? Or over twenty years later take up photography and spend last weekend filling the floor space in my house with proofs because I was too sick to do anything else? And will probably be behaving similarly in my eighties? Looking at adults who do well musically, a word that most commonly comes to mind is "Driven". I think it is a combination of several things: the love of what we do, the desire not to accept second best, the inability to deny our own self expression, the belief we can do it, and the complete disregard of what others may think.
As to your suggestion of a school, I'm afraid it may fail. We are not talking cycles of poverty stuff here (that's officialese), it is much worse. I don't want to give the wrong impression. I'm paid very well to take these classes. It just happens that I also love doing it. I am there to teach them to read music and play an instrument, but a  lot of these children are buzzing so badly in the head that I may only have their attention for thirty seconds during a lesson. And they are often used to slacking off in class (completely failing to understand that I am older, meaner, dirtier, funnier and much more ruthless than they can ever hope to be for a long time). So I watch for that brief moment when they are fully present and while we have eye contact attempt to instil in them the understanding that it is never too late for a human being to change and become the person they want to be. And then demonstrate it by getting them to play a tune. That's what I hope to pass on. The people running this place are also undoubtedly driven, and seeing some their pupils getting straightened out and into good employment is probably worth the burn out they experience by the end of the term.
D
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #69 on: March 27, 2009, 10:45:14 PM »
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Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
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John Camp
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« Reply #70 on: March 27, 2009, 11:36:11 PM »
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Quote from: DarkPenguin
Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
But that doesn't seem to be the case, at least in the studies cited by the books I've mentioned. (For people really interested in this stuff, those two books are eye-openers.) At the point where the stars diverge from the rest, there really isn't any difference in apparent ability -- but then, the stars pile on the practice, and emerge as stars.

I don't know if this would be the way to put it, exactly, but "talent" seems to be the ability to tolerate a level of practice (and a kind of difficult practice) that others are not willing to accept. In other words, you don't have a talent for photography, painting or the trumpet, you have a talent for a particular kind of work, and you express that talent through photography, painting or whatever...the difference being that YOU can pick you talent, your talent doesn't somehow pick you.

This is really off-topic, but I wonder if some people (like Barack Obama) have a "talent" for charisma? And do they somehow practice it?
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David Sutton
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« Reply #71 on: March 27, 2009, 11:57:48 PM »
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Quote from: DarkPenguin
Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
With some reservations I'm not sure you can. What I found is that there are some things you find so insanely difficult that you work on some other area to compensate. Say you realise you will not have the speed of someone who is gifted with fingers that are naturally adapted to speed, so you work on an intensity of feeling that covers this up, and people never comment on the fact that you play slower. Or you just avoid playing pieces that reveal your weaknesses. Not being a golfer I can't comment on Tiger Woods, except to ask if that perhaps on some courses on some days he can be beaten by players who may not match him overall? The best analogy I can think of is motor racing. A smaller 4 cylinder car can easily beat a V8 if the track has enough corners where the smaller car can outbreak the larger. You have to work with what you've got.
In the past it was normal for performers to have a very small repertoire by today's standards, but they chose their repertoire to display the skills the had really worked on.
Not really off topic: charisma- that's an interesting one. Is it  somehow an outcome of belief in oneself? I have seen artists with it, and their charisma went with their self belief and their hard work on their art.
D

Edit: just thought of a better example. I find landscape photography insanely difficult. I'm standing there and think "what am I supposed to to do with this?" But I have some strong opinions about stones, and if I can find one to put it in a scene I feel I'm getting somewhere and have something to say. Also a lot of my musical training has been to do with the invisible gaps between things, the pauses if you will, so I think, well, what about mist? Landscape in mist. I can happily spend all day doing that. Jut a few things sticking out through the white, and the eye filling in the bits that in reality are just the white paper showing through when printed. So it's a start.
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« Reply #72 on: March 28, 2009, 12:45:40 AM »
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Quote from: John Camp
At the point where the stars diverge from the rest, there really isn't any difference in apparent ability -- but then, the stars pile on the practice, and emerge as stars.
This would be valid, if it is backed by actual evidence.  I know a woman who, as a girl of 13, was able to sing Whitney Houston better than Whitney, electronic effects and all.  I witnessed and heard her do it.  She has since risen to work on both "Sesame Street" and on Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Bombey," among other gigs.  She has put in her 10k hours, but she was very damned good before she had a chance to do that.

All the people I know who are have reached any height showed something extraordinary before they got there, and before they put in the practice needed to get there.  A friend, who tried to teach me guitar in high school, was above average good on that instrument with minutes of picking it up.  His 10k hours have made him superb, but he started at a higher level than many can achieve with hard, constant practice.   Beloved Friend, a bio of Tchaikovsky, makes it clear that he, who certainly put in his 10k hours, could not have become the composer (and musician) that he was without the foundation provided by 'talent.'  I personally put in my 10k hours in broadcasting, and I was very good at it, but that was because I began with an unusual penchant for speaking my thoughts in a cogent way, while others stood mute in the grade-school lunch line.  I began my practice because I was good and wanted to get better, and for no other reason.  I know the same is true for my guitar friend, and I'm certain it's true for the singer.

Mozart's Dad could have beaten that boy purple, but we'd never have heard his name if he hadn't started with more than most of us will ever achieve.  
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« Reply #73 on: March 28, 2009, 10:02:10 AM »
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Quote from: feppe
I'm positive it will happen some day - if it hasn't happened already. If we have monkeys producing art sold at galleries, why not a machine?

The number of abilities unique to humans has diminished over the centuries as we study animals, and the hubris shown in early written texts claiming we are somehow fundamentally different from other species is shown repeatedly to be false. From birds which create tools to monkeys using prostitution to get food. It's the same with machines: first it was tic tac toe, then it was chess and speech recognition, next is game of go, pattern recognition and "creativity."

Perhaps we should devise a Turing Test for art: have a jury give artistic tasks to a contestant, and let the jury determine whether the contestant is a human or a machine based on the results. I'd be willing to be a significant sum of money that a machine will pass as a human within a generation.

Again, that statement is not falsifiable, making it as valid as the tooth fairy.

Feppe, if you actually believe that, then when you and I use the term "art" we're talking about two completely different things. You're talking about something that's organized, perhaps beautiful, that shows extreme skill on the part of the producer. I'm talking about something moving -- in a human sense; something that produces a reaction in me that's beyond description in words.

If you really believe a machine can produce what I'm calling art then you need to read Joseph Weizenbaum's book, Computer Power and Human Reason. Weizenbaum was one of the world's leading experts in artificial intelligence. Here's a quote from the article on Weizenbaum in Wikipedia: "His influential 1976 book Computer Power and Human Reason displays his ambivalence towards computer technology and lays out his case: while Artificial Intelligence may be possible, we should never allow computers to make important decisions because computers will always lack human qualities such as compassion and wisdom..." That's really an over-simplification of what he said, but it gets to the nut of the problem. As far as the idea that monkeys can produce art is concerned -- I guess you can call anything art if you want to. Marcel Duchamp certainly got away with that.

As far as monkeys using prostitution to get food is concerned: When I was in high school I worked at the Detroit Zoo for a couple summers. I used to do a spiel at the "Joe Mendi" theater. Joe was a chimp and I can tell you from personal observation that chimps are interested in two things: food and sex. When you consider what humans are interested in, you're right, it tends to reduce your hubris. Humans use prostitution to get food too, but I'd hardly call that art. Pattern recognition, by the way, is a long way from "creativity." Remember, a computer is nothing but a bunch of electronic circuits. The software is the actual machine, and any "creativity" in the program is put there by the programmer.

As far as a Turing test for art is concerned, we're back to artificial intelligence, and back to Weizenbaum's book. That's exactly what the book is about. We don't have to wait a generation, Weizenbaum's "Eliza" -- his computer program that simulated a therapist -- fooled many people into thinking it had "intelligence." In a sense, Eliza passed the Turing test, though what it echoed back to statements by the person using it was anything but intelligence. Still, let's suppose that Eliza was "intelligent." So what? Intelligence is not what produces art, though I'd agree that someone who produces art probably has to be intelligent as well as have what I'll call the spark.
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« Reply #74 on: March 28, 2009, 10:17:38 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Feppe, if you actually believe that, then when you and I use the term "art" we're talking about two completely different things. You're talking about something that's organized, perhaps beautiful, that shows extreme skill on the part of the producer. I'm talking about something moving -- in a human sense; something that produces a reaction in me that's beyond description in words.
...

Now we're getting somewhere. I linked to the Mandelbrot set since I find that moving, fascinating and mind-bogglingly complex. Much more so than any of the work by van Gogh, but not as much as that of Picasso. I'm not qualified to judge whether the Mandelbrot set can or should be considered art, but it definitely fulfills your requirement of eliciting strong emotions.

What I was getting at my examples of prostitution and pattern recognition etc. was that we humans have a long history of thinking we are in some way special from all other life forms, including artificial ones. But that domain is getting smaller and smaller as we get to know other species - and it is getting increasingly smaller with AI developments. While I'm not nearly as optimistic as some on how fast AI will become reality, I am positive it will some day.

We already have battlefield bomb disposal robots which their handlers get so attached to that they feel genuine mental anguish when the robot is destroyed by a failed bomb disposal attempt. Lots of people were attached to their Tamagotchis and Aibos. It's only a matter of time when we have robots which dance, draw and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. And I am sure most laymen (me included) will be moved, if not fooled, by such performances much earlier than "true" AI arises (whatever that entails).

When that happens, I challenge you to still argue that it's not true art just because it's not man-made.
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« Reply #75 on: March 28, 2009, 12:30:58 PM »
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Now we're getting somewhere. I linked to the Mandelbrot set since I find that moving, fascinating and mind-bogglingly complex. Much more so than any of the work by van Gogh, but not as much as that of Picasso. I'm not qualified to judge whether the Mandelbrot set can or should be considered art, but it definitely fulfills your requirement of eliciting strong emotions.

What I was getting at my examples of prostitution and pattern recognition etc. was that we humans have a long history of thinking we are in some way special from all other life forms, including artificial ones. But that domain is getting smaller and smaller as we get to know other species - and it is getting increasingly smaller with AI developments. While I'm not nearly as optimistic as some on how fast AI will become reality, I am positive it will some day.

We already have battlefield bomb disposal robots which their handlers get so attached to that they feel genuine mental anguish when the robot is destroyed by a failed bomb disposal attempt. Lots of people were attached to their Tamagotchis and Aibos. It's only a matter of time when we have robots which dance, draw and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. And I am sure most laymen (me included) will be moved, if not fooled, by such performances much earlier than "true" AI arises (whatever that entails).

When that happens, I challenge you to still argue that it's not true art just because it's not man-made.

I flew the F84G fighter-bomber during the Korean war, and yes, I became very attached to my airplane, tail number 392. In a way, an airplane is like a woman. Learning all its peculiarities is important if you want to get along with it. I learned, for instance, that the airplane was slightly out of rig and that if I wanted to hit a ground target with my 50 caliber machine guns, even though there were 6 of them, I had to put the gun sight pip a bit to the right instead of right on. But even though I developed what I'll call a special relationship with that airplane the airplane was a long way from art. What you're saying is that if you love your dog he's a work of art, and in a sense you're right. The dog is a work of art and God is the artist. In fact, your current argument is getting awfully close to a religious argument. You don't believe humans are special in any particular way, but I do believe that and I doubt any argument or "study" is going to change either of our minds..

We may very well have robots that dance, draw, and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. But as I said earlier I was a software engineer for 30 years and I can tell you without any doubt that if the robot is a work of art the originality and spontaneity that makes the robot an art object will have been put there by an artist: the programmer. And so I still argue that the robot itself may be a work of art but the art will always be man made.
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« Reply #76 on: March 28, 2009, 03:59:41 PM »
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I flew the F84G fighter-bomber during the Korean war, and yes, I became very attached to my airplane, tail number 392. In a way, an airplane is like a woman. Learning all its peculiarities is important if you want to get along with it. I learned, for instance, that the airplane was slightly out of rig and that if I wanted to hit a ground target with my 50 caliber machine guns, even though there were 6 of them, I had to put the gun sight pip a bit to the right instead of right on. But even though I developed what I'll call a special relationship with that airplane the airplane was a long way from art. What you're saying is that if you love your dog he's a work of art, and in a sense you're right. The dog is a work of art and God is the artist. In fact, your current argument is getting awfully close to a religious argument. You don't believe humans are special in any particular way, but I do believe that and I doubt any argument or "study" is going to change either of our minds..

We may very well have robots that dance, draw, and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. But as I said earlier I was a software engineer for 30 years and I can tell you without any doubt that if the robot is a work of art the originality and spontaneity that makes the robot an art object will have been put there by an artist: the programmer. And so I still argue that the robot itself may be a work of art but the art will always be man made.

That's not at all what I'm saying - I'm merely trying to get the point across that with every generation we get closer and closer to animals and now machines being similar to ourselves, to generate feelings which previously have been thought to be the domain of humans alone. Taking that progression to its natural extreme, it's only a matter of time when machines create art, without anyone programming it to do so.
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« Reply #77 on: March 28, 2009, 06:48:25 PM »
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That's not at all what I'm saying - I'm merely trying to get the point across that with every generation we get closer and closer to animals and now machines being similar to ourselves, to generate feelings which previously have been thought to be the domain of humans alone. Taking that progression to its natural extreme, it's only a matter of time when machines create art, without anyone programming it to do so.

Well, I'm sorry to hear you're getting closer and closer to animals. You ought to resist that trend as much as possible.

How do you figure the "machines" will get programmed? Remember, what you're calling a machine is simply a bunch of electrical circuits and inert hardware. The real machine is the software that tells the hardware what to do.
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« Reply #78 on: March 28, 2009, 07:43:01 PM »
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How do you figure the "machines" will get programmed? Remember, what you're calling a machine is simply a bunch of electrical circuits and inert hardware. The real machine is the software that tells the hardware what to do.

The same way they are now. We already have machines which have simple emergent behavior which was not planned by the programmer.
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John Camp
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« Reply #79 on: March 29, 2009, 05:19:08 PM »
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Since you haven't given out any information in your profile I don't know whether or not you're Canadian. I lived in Canada for several years and I can tell you why those hockey players are born in January, February and March. In Canada early Spring begins in April, actually shows a bit in May, and blooms in June. And in the Springtime a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to...

Actually, the reason is that the cut-off date for Canadian youth leagues is Jan. 1. So in any youth league class (running Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) the oldest kids are generally the biggest, fastest and most coordinated. This advantage disappears in the late teens, but is very powerful before then. As players develop over their younger years, there are recurring filters, with better players moved into harder and more demanding leagues and competition, with better coaches and more practice time. Since "inborn" talent is almost certainly spread evenly across the year, the only major difference between people who become stars and those who don't (given equal talent) is the availability of practice and coaching, and that availability occurs pretty much soley because of birth date. If two kids had exactly the same talent, and are both six years old on Dec. 31, but one was born on Jan. 2 and the other was born on Dec. 26 of the same year, the January kid is almost a year older, but he's playing in the same birth class. So talent has little effect -- and the argument in the book suggests that if Canada wants to maximize its overall hockey talent, there should be several leagues, based on rotating birth dates, to eliminate the birth/practice advantage. In any case, under the current system, in Canadian hockey at its highest levels, talent counts for less than luck and training.

JC
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