Australian songwriter, poet and occasional film actor, Nick Cave has answered a fan letter to offer his thoughts on artificial intelligence, human limitations, algorithmic emotion, and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

In September last year, Nick Cave announced plans to engage in one-to-one online correspondence with his fans. He invited his email subscribers to send “questions or comments, observations or inspirations” in a series of mail drops titled The Red Hand Files.

The Red Hand Files was inspired by his “Conversations with Nick Cave” Q&A tour through the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

In a recent letter to a fan, Peter, Nick Cave answered the question: Considering human imagination the last piece of wilderness, do you think AI will ever be able to write a good song?

nick cave on stage black and white
Credit: Costas Broumas

Cave starts the letter with a reference to Yuval Noah Harari’s 2018-released book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century: “[Harari] writes that Artificial Intelligence, with its limitless potential and connectedness, will ultimately render many humans redundant in the work place. This sounds entirely feasible.”

But Cave disagrees with Harari’s point that AI will be able to create songs tailored exclusively to our own particular mental algorithms to make us feel whatever we want to feel.