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AI and Creativity: Can Machines Create with Innovation and Artistry?

By Dick Weisinger

What does it mean to be creative? Is creativity something that AI and machines can ever achieve?

Creativity incorporates twists and turns that evoke surprise and appreciation of something that is unexpected and unique. We sense creativity when we experience something that we know would have been difficult for ourselves to have created or something which offers new insight.

By some measures, there are examples of AI that already exist today that might be considered creative. OpenAI’s GPT-3 is an example of AI that can surprise and provide responses that are prophetic and wise.

Mike Loukides, vice president at O’Reilly Media, said that our definition of creativity has been changing as we observe the evolution of AI. As AI gets better, we are continually raising the bar when we compare what AI can do versus what humans are capable of doing. Each time an AI system does something that looks ‘intelligent’ or ‘creative’, we end up deciding that’s not what intelligence really is. And that’s a good thing. AI is likely to teach us more about what intelligence and creativity are not than about what they are.”

Many argue that AI merely mimics and creates copies of what humans can do. AI’s role might best be one of a collaborator or tool that humans can use to improve and extend their own creativity. Humans will provide the overall parameters of input and AI is able to explore the combinatorics of possibilities and let the human choose the best among many possible paths and results.

Nigel Duffy, EY Global AI Leader, wrote that “by combining human and AI understanding and interpretation, we can find whole new ways of approaching challenges, developing ideas, and driving growth. This means that, rather than having to begin with a blank canvas, we can use AI to direct our creative judgement and decision-making processes – to suggest routes for innovation that are more likely to be successful, based on the available data.”

But we are still thinking about the AI of today. AI will continue to evolve and only get better.

In the book Homo Deus, the author Yuval Noah Harari, concludes that humans are essentially a collection of biological algorithms that were shaped by thousands of years of evolution. There’s nothing stopping AI and machines from copying our human algorithms. Anna Marks, freelance writer and consultant, comments in a piece for Wired that this line of reasoning leads to the conclusion that AI and humans may not be as fundamentally different as we would like to believe.

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