CSL Paris 20th Anniversary Event

logoSony CSL Paris 20th Anniversary Event: "Intensive Science"

Sony CSL Paris, founded in 1996, though not a large research organization, is a very active one. The main areas of focus for research are language and music (fields which relate to human creativity) and sustainability (climate modeling, urban agriculture, etc.).

The 20th anniversary event, titled "Intensive Science," was held at La Gaîté Lyrique, a historic Parisian theater first opened in 1862 as Theatre de la Gaîté and renovated in 2010 to become a modern performance and exhibition space.

In addition to the symposium and demo/poster exhibit, research results were also presented in concert form. Total attendance for the day was more than 300, including scholars, artists, members of the media, and Sony employees.


Symposium - Research in Language, Agro-ecology, Music

The symposium consisted of a series of talks on the topics of Language, Agro-ecology*1, and Music. At the beginning of the Language talk, former CSL Paris director Luc Steels reflected on the 20-year history of CSL Paris and its prospects for the future.


The Agro-ecology talk featured three speakers, one each from CSL Tokyo, CSL Paris and an outside organization. There was a lively discussion, extrapolating from research findings, on the scientific, practical and technological aspects of ushering in a new era in agriculture, and the technologies that would make it possible.

The Music talk saw current Sony CSL Paris Director Francois Pachet introduce his AI research project "Flow Machines"*2, which opens the door to vastly expanded musical creativity through the use of AI in music composition.

Demo and Poster Exhibition of CSL Paris Research

The exhibition component of the event featured 12 demos and posters, nine from Paris and three from Tokyo, in the areas of Music, Language and Agro-ecology etc.


One research project exhibited was "Deep Bach", an AI system that applies Deep Learning to 400 Bach compositions in order to compose classical works in the style of Bach. Many attendees enjoyed the challenge of listening to two melodies and attempting to distinguish which was an authentic Bach piece, and which computer-generated.


Other demos included Emergent Communication, which seeks to model how language emerges and evolves through the application of Developmental AI: artificial systems that can autonomously learn and develop in the same way young children do; and a system that can analyze sentence meaning using FCG(Fluid Construction Grammar) software.


Among the exhibits on agro ecology research was a prototype robot for use in home gardens and small scale agriculture (rather than monoculture) equipped with a sensor system that monitors plant growth in real time, and an arm that can remove weeds detected by the sensor, as well as a database of the data it has obtained so far.


Masatoshi Funabashi of CSL Tokyo exhibited a demo about Synecoculture: an approach to growing that uses interplanting of a large number of crops, with no fertilizer, with no agrochemicals, and continuous harvesting of produce out of dense and mixed community of edible plants. The demo focused on crop management systems currently under development that apply ICT.


Other research from CSL Tokyo exhibited at the event included the DCOES Project, a DC-based, bottom-up, and scalable distributed energy power system designed to support various renewable energy sources; and a working demo of JackIn Head, a 3D VR human-human telepresence system based on a head-mounted omnidirectional camera. Also on display were examples of technologies deployed by Sony business units based on CSL Paris research results.


Opera and Concert of AI-Composed Songs

The "piece de resistance" of the anniversary event, on top of the more conventional symposium and exhibition elements, was the presentation of an opera and a concert featuring a number of artists.

With the cooperation of the University of Paris, portions of "FAUSTO", an opera composed by Luc Steels and Oscar Vilarroya, were performed. FAUSTO, very much in the rich tradition of Parisian high culture, reinterprets the concept of Goethe's classic play to tell the story of Faust, who attains eternal life through the digitalization of his body and mind--in exchange for his soul and corporeal body.


Meanwhile a concert brought together several artists performing songs composed with the "Flow Machines" tools, spanning pop, jazz, chanson and beyond. This demonstrated the capability of "Flow Machines" to empower music creation across a broad range of genres. CSL Paris director François Pachet also played using the Reflexive Looper system he developed to overlay and arrange guitar, bass, chorus, etc. in real time.


The CSL Paris 20th anniversary event came to a successful conclusion at the end a pulsing day of talks, demos, posters, and performances. There are plans to hold a similar event in three years.

*1 Agro-ecology: A scientific endeavor and social movement to replace mechanized, commercialized large-scale monoculture with agriculture based on protection of ecosystems and a vision of agriculture and society in coexistence with nature.
*2 Flow Machines: AI software consisting of a song database and composition tools that enable a composer to select a style from the "lead sheets" (containing only the melody, chords and lyrics) of the diverse songs and tracks in the database, and to create and edit new lead sheets from them. This project receives partial funding from the ERC (European Research Council).