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Shuying Li, "The Last Hivemind"

The Last Hivemind

Shuying Li

Born: 1989

Composed: 2018

Duration: 7 minutes

The Last Hive Mind was written for conductor Glen Adsit and the Foot in the Door Ensemble at The Hartt School. Inspired by several episodes of the British TV series Black Mirror and the general idea of recent increasing debate around the artificial intelligence and how it will affect our daily lives as human being, I put some of my personal thoughts, standing and imagination into this work. Thanks to Glen who came up with this very dynamic and matching title at the preliminary stage of my writing of it— the title also helped in the shaping of how the musical narrative is navigating its own way throughout.

Specifically, I was struck by the idea in one episode of Black Mirror, the “Metalhead.” After the unexplained collapse of human society, a group of people tried to flee from the robotic “dogs,” a huge hive mind with metal built bodies and powerful computer “brains.” The failure is almost predictable, but one detail that struck me the most was that the whole reason that a few human beings got trapped in the crazy chasing by the robotic dogs was because of their effort of searching a comforting gift for a very sick child — and the gift is just a fluffy teddy bear.

In The Last Hive Mind, there are two forces fighting with each other — the robotic, rhythmic, seemingly unbreakable “hive mind” music, versus the dreamy, melodic and warm “lullaby” tune. Lastly presented by the piano, the “lullaby” music is also a quote from my mini piano concerto Canton Snowstorm. As the title indicates, this work depicts the struggle between the artificial intelligence, or the hive mind, and the dimming humanity; furthermore, the work implies the final collapse and breakdown of the last hive mind followed by its triumph.

- Shuying Li

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