Bob DylanSince the 1980s, a debate has been raging about whether an artificially intelligent computer system could ever be truly creative. Could computer algorithms ever be used to write a ‘real’ hit song – even if the machine was programmed and trained just like a human songwriter … and given enough data and fed hundreds of chart hits by its programmers?

An old adage says that a monkey sitting at a typewriter could eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare. By the same token, could a computer ever create a work of art that could match the creativity of Beethoven or Mozart? … Or Bob Dylan?

IBM has cleverly used this debate as the basis of a new US TV commercial for its cognitive system IBM Watson – an artificially intelligent computer capable of answering people’s questions posed in natural language.

In the TV ad, IBM’s ‘Watson’ is seen discussing songwriting with Bob Dylan …

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