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Who's In This Podcast
Helen Todd is co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared and the human behind Creativity Squared.
Harry Yeff is a London-born neuro-divergent artist and technologist specializing in voice and the expression of voice across disciplines, contexts, technology, and media.

Ep1. Harry Yeff: My Second Self

Up Next
Ep2. Jey Van-Sharp: Culture is Data

Ep1. My Second Self: Discover How World-Renowned Beatboxer & Voice Technologist Harry Yeff Collaborates with A.I.

Welcome to the first episode of Creativity Squared! 

Meet Harry Yeff, a London-born neuro-divergent artist and technologist specializing in voice and the expression of voice across disciplines, contexts, technology, and media. While his research in human and A.I. collaboration started in 2016, Harry has a lifelong obsession with self-improvement and with the evolution of the human voice, and how far he can push his own.

With over 100M views on YouTube, his accolades are many and include being a world-renowned beatboxer and a guest lecturer at Harvard University. He’s been on stage at the World Economic Forum, TED, and Wired.

In the interview, Harry shares how he collaborates with companies like Bell Labs and trained their A.I. machines with his vocals to then beatbox with his “second self.” We also explore his digital VOICE GEMS project, how he sees art as ceremony for the human spirit, and so many more fascinating insights into his creative process with artificial intelligence.

Harry’s been visualizing voice for over 15 years and when it comes to pioneers in creativity and A.I., Harry is at the forefront of voice, conversation, and how this technology can help us become more human.

His perspectives, stories, and projects made him the perfect person to launch Creativity Squared!

This is an art piece by Harry called: REEPS100 GHOST CHESS BOARD PRINT x R1 COLLECTION x SIGNED

The Power of A.I.

A.I. is power. Intelligence is power.

Harry believes that the biggest shortfall is when people completely dismiss an innovation as if it has nothing to do with their lives. A.I. and machine learning is already here. He points out that people need to update their perceptions of A.I. For instance, if he goes back to his hometown of East London, people still associate A.I. with science fiction. There needs to be a more profound conversation about how A.I. is present and will be present in people’s lives. 

He thinks that artists, more than traditional tech experts, are responsible for ensuring that the right narratives permeate society so that people can learn and grow. This drives his own experimentation. How do we improve as human beings? What are ways of developing skills? Harry is a firm believer that A.I. will be a part of the question of how we can improve as human beings.

Harry Yeff in the Bell Labs Antioch chamber

Creating a Second Self 

Harry also talks about Second Self, an arts and science collaboration between himself, Dada Bots, and the E.A.T. program at Bell Labs. It was a duet of sorts and also an opposition between himself and A.I. He trained a machine to emulate his voice, creating a second self. The Deep Learning A.I. machine was able to replicate his composition and also predict what would follow. The collaboration raised awareness about machine learning beyond the academic, technological, and engineering demographics via the medium of film. Harry found the opposition and competition with his “second self” as really beautiful. A full mini-series was created around this project called We Speak Music that we can’t recommend enough!

Most people don’t realize how vast and how many innovations are still happening in vocal technique. With something so old and profound as the human voice, there are still new sounds and techniques being discovered. Harry pushes himself and believes that we should exercise the range of our voice like we exercise our bodies.

Image of the Herbert W. Franke voice gem


The best art is made on the edge of fear.

Harry Yeff

In our interview with Harry, he described his project VOICE GEMS which is a generative system and voice archive designed by himself and Trung Bao. The system harnesses the fingerprint-like features found in the human voice to generate physical and digital one-of-a-kind gemstones. They’ve collected voices from engaged species, dying languages, and people like Dr. Jane Goodall and Herbert W. Franke to archive. The first VOICE GEM was created from the laughter between two partners and was used to replace a traditional engagement ring. Harry shares why the recent NFT drop of the Herbert W. Franke VOICE GEM is so meaningful.

Art as Ceremony

I’m so passionate that digital can be spiritual.

Harry Yeff

Harry believes the function of art is a ceremonial need to amplify the things that we love or hope for. His definition of spiritual is any artwork that you see or stand in front of that brings you back to something very fundamental.

Finding new ceremonial opportunities, like archiving voices, is important. We should be innovating ways to celebrate being alive. 

Abstract graphic of Harry titled CONCEPT CHIOR CLUSTER

The Limits of Being Human 

This new wave of A.I. is going to be like having running water in your home.

Harry Yeff

For Harry, being human is to be limited. He likens this new wave of A.I. to water on tap. Just as we have water coming out of the tap, A.I. provides intelligence on tap. However, that comes with a huge amount of power that requires literacy and understanding. We need to take responsibility rather than run away and try to understand A.I. as much as we can within our own lives.

He remains optimistic about the future of A.I, but we need to tread carefully. There are new mutations in art and intelligence that will emerge that people are not yet sensorially ready for. However, he is excited about the future and looks forward to seeing what will develop next.

Additional Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Connect with Harry

Reeps100 Ghost Chess Board Print
The art piece in Helen’s podcast studio

this&that Conversation Lab

Continue the Conversation

NFT Episode Cover Art for Premium Members Preview

A big thank you to Harry for joining us as Creativity Squared’s first guest! 

Creativity Squared is brought to you by Sociality Squared, a social media agency who understands the magic of bringing people together around what they value and love: http://socialitysquared.com.

Because it’s important to support artists, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates will go to ArtsWave, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports over 100 arts organizations.

This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com.

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