Things AI Can’t Replace

The more I learn about AI, the more it seems that everything can at some point be replaced by AI (and robots).

But then there are things that (maybe) can’t.

Humans will always appreciate human craftmanship. At least that’s what I believe. (Although maybe, who knows, at some point AI will be able to match and exceed human craftmanship to an extend where we don’t appreciate it anymore?)

There was this comment on a recent HN thread:

I suspect the focus on the visuals has more to do with the journalist’s perspective as a layperson than the focus of the luthiers.

My wife is a professional cellist and cello teacher, and she absolutely can tell the difference between a handmade instrument and a factory-made one. I’ve watched her appraise dozens of student cellos, and even though I can’t hear the difference myself, I know how good an instrument is from the look on her face a few seconds into playing it. She never looks at the label or pays attention to the appearance of the body, the sound is the only thing that sets the good instruments apart for her.

As I understand it, the difference between a crafted instrument and a factory one lies in the way the creator adapts (or doesn’t) to the natural grain of the wood. A handmade instrument by an expert can’t be beaten by a factory process because each piece of wood resonates differently and those differences must be accounted for to get a good sound.


It’s unlikely that AI will ever be able to accomplish this. You need to feel the wood and have an understanding of how it will produce sound, and feel the sound, and understand the different materials.

But who’s to say that not at some point AI will have all the data and information to assess the different materials and shapes, and it will be able to calculate the perfect acoustics? Maybe through neural interfaces it will even create models of how sounds make humans feel, and optimize for a maximally emotionally resonant sound, creating instruments that are elicit even more human emotion than human-made instruments.

Who knows? With the rapid advances going on now, this could be a real possibility.

On the other hand, at least for the next 10 years or so, I expect human-made to become more valuable in a few specific areas of life with the changes (upheavals?) ahead when technology replaces humans.






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