‘Carole & Tuesday’ is the latest anime from Shinichirō Watanabe, the director of the extremely popular ‘Cowboy Bebop’ series. It follows two young musicians in the far future as they struggle to break into an industry dominated by Artificial Intelligence. The show marks the 20th anniversary of studio Bones and the 10th anniversary of FlyingDog record label.
The anime is a musical comedy that is filled to the brim with good music, some great laughs and interesting characters. Carole is a street musician living in Alba City, the largest metropolis on a terraformed version of Mars. She meets Tuesday, the runaway daughter of a politician who has arrived in Alba City with nothing but ambition and a Gibson acoustic guitar. The unlikely duo partner up to try and make their way into the music industry.
‘Carole & Tuesday’ may primarily be a show about music and friendship but its most striking feature is its bleak view of the music industry’s future. In the show’s time, music is almost entirely created by AI and human music is something that is easily dismissed as an anachronism. Sure this might not be as shocking a technological horror as some of the things featured in ‘Black Mirror’ but this future is terrifying specifically because of how easily we can see it coming about.
AI is slowly taking over every industry that depended solely on human talent. While widespread automation might be a good thing from an industrial point of view (you don’t have to pay an AI, after all) it raises some interesting philosophical concerns.
What would happen to humanity if we were to automate things as culturally important as music or literature? It is theoretically possible to program an AI to create music but what would that mean for humanity as a species? Would it not stunt our cultural growth and turn us into even more of a consumerist race?
These are only some of the questions raised by the possibility of AI-created art. Of course, we can hope that human music would still be appreciated but ‘Carole & Tuesday’ warns us not to be so sure.
‘Carole & Tuesday’ presents a future where culture is automated and consumerized to the point where it has no value outside of being a “product”. Those who look with disdain at today’s popular music would truly shudder to think of a world where all music is nothing more than a commercial product designed and built by advanced AI. Sure it might not be as sensational as a robot uprising but the show’s take on the dangers of AI is just as scary, if not more.
The first part of ‘Carole & Tuesday’ will come to Netflix on August 30, 2019.