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Big Revolution - Mumford and his robot sons

Welcome to a particularly packed Tuesday edition of Big Revolution. Let's dive straight in... – Marti
September 18 · Issue #205 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to a particularly packed Tuesday edition of Big Revolution. Let’s dive straight in…

Big things you need to know today
  • Twitter is bringing back the chronological timeline! After years of user complaints, Twitter says it will introduce a switch that easily lets you change between the current algorithmic timeline and all tweets in the order they were posted.
  • Dreams can come true. Elon Musk said he hoped Thailand cave rescuer Vernon Unsworth would sue him, and that’s exactly what has happened. The lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles, but it’s thought a second will be filed in Unsworth’s native UK, where libel laws are more strict.
  • Instagram is adding a Shopping tab to its Explore page. This will provide a shortcut to shoppable merchandise a user might be interested in. The Verge has previously reported that Instagram is working on a standalone shopping app.
  • Amazon is reportedly planning to release at least eight new Alexa devices this year. Among them… a microwave.
  • Withings is back. The European health tech brand that became Nokia Health is out on its own again and has just announced a new smart sports watch.
The big thought
Mumford & Sons. A.I. not pictured.
Mumford and his robot sons
Mumford & Sons beware! An AI can now write indie music,” a TechCrunch headline warned yesterday. Let’s set aside whether Mumford & Sons counts as indie (I’d say they’re ‘modern folk’), but the idea that software is getting closer to writing full, usable songs is worthy of note.
The songs the software creates feature instrumentation and a melody, just leaving it to a human to sing over the top. This is the most mainstream interpretation of 'indie’ I’ve heard since someone told me 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Deep Blue Something was indie, but it gives you an idea of what’s possible…
Amadeus Code Aco. Indie song (+human) - YouTube
As these tools get better (and they’re improving quickly), it will no doubt trigger countless thinkpieces about how A.I., like home taping before it, is killing music.
Much will be made of the first time a song co-written by A.I. hits number one in the charts. But even if some elements of songwriting are sometimes delegated to software, it’s not going to spoil music forever. Just as autotune has gone from being a scourge spoiling music to just another tool in a producer’s plugins folder, A.I. will become a useful tool but not the ultimate songwriter.
Music is a very human thing. We crave the emotional connection it provides. A.I. won’t be able to offer that any time soon. And even if it is eventually better than some human songwriters, if it produces songs we love, will that be a completely bad thing?
One big read
iOS 12: The MacStories Review iOS 12: The MacStories Review
It’s the time of year for incredibly long OS reviews. And here’s a practically book-length look at everything iOS 12 has to offer. Federico Viticci is the master at these in-depth pieces, so even if you don’t have time to read it all, it’s worth a skim through to appreciate the thought, attention and effort that’s gone into it. There’s even an audiobook version!
One big podcast Podcast #86: Taxify brings e-scooters to Paris, CCP Games sold for $425M Podcast #86: Taxify brings e-scooters to Paris, CCP Games sold for $425M
I like, partly because its founder, investors and writing team past and present are all lovely people, but also because it gives the European tech ecosystem the attention it deserves.
They’ve just revamped their podcast, and the current edition is worth a listen if you’re into European tech. They even give a shout out to Big Revolution at the end!
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow. In the meantime, don’t forget:
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