Carter, A. and Hoffman, G. (2021).
Lessons From Joint Improvisation Workshops for Musicians and Robotics Engineers

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
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We report on a series of workshops with musicians and robotics engineers aimed to study how human and machine improvisation can be explored through interdisciplinary design research. In the first workshop, we posed two leading questions to participants. First, what can AI and robotics learn by how improvisers think about time, space, actions, and decisions? Second, how can improvisation and musical instruments be enhanced by AI and robotics? The workshop included sessions led by the musicians, which provided an overview of the theory and practice of musical improvisation. In other sessions, AI and robotics researchers introduced AI principles to the musicians. Two smaller follow-up workshops comprised of only engineering and information science students provided an opportunity to elaborate on the principles covered in the first workshop. The workshops revealed parallels and discrepancies in the conceptualization of improvisation between musicians and engineers. These thematic differences could inform considerations for future designers of improvising robots.