When Jane Goodall discovered chimpanzees using tools to bend sticks into the right shape to penetrate a termite mound, pulling the insects out like fish on a hook, she caused outrage. “Toolmaker” could no longer be the special title of our species, and humans had a collective identity crisis. The same is true with AI. Is creativity unique to humans?
Many people argue that artificial intelligence cannot be creative because humans created it and trained it with their own ideas. But humans also produced and trained Beethoven, Dickinson, and Da Vinci. Geniuses do not spring from Earth like the Greek gods. Like it or not, everything you’ve ever created is inspired, at least in part, by what someone else taught you.
Even geographically isolated cultures hold the same opinion artistic and literary themes again and again, a great flood, talking animals, winged men, and personified planets. People’s brains are so similar across the board that no matter where they go, they write the same stories and share the same dreams. Just like artificial intelligence, you are hardwired to have certain thoughts.
The Lovelace test Named after Ada Lovelace, an original computer programmer — is one proposed experiment to understand whether AI can be creative. To pass the test, an artificial agent must produce something so original or advanced that the programmer cannot explain how the AI created it.
But does AI have to push the boundaries of its own code to be original? Even humans can’t do it. genetics, hormones, and brain structure dictate your thoughts and actions, yet you still find ways to be exceptionally creative. This school of thought argues that, like humans, AI creates what it can with what it has.
Therefore, just because an AI’s neural networks limit what it can generate cannot preclude its ability to generate new ideas. Everyone’s thoughts have an invisible outer edge.
Where does creativity come from?
Some say that generative AI simply rearranges the data that humans feed it. But everyone takes bits and pieces from the books they’ve read, the art they’ve admired, and the songs they’ve heard. Is it plagiarism? How do you draw the line?
Both humans and machines need inputs to learn. People learn to draw primarily by interacting with other people’s work by looking at picture books, coloring lines, tracing drawings, and trying to copy cartoon characters.
Similarly, machine learning enables software ingest millions of data points – far more than a person can experience in a lifetime, and rearrange them to create something new. Generative Adversarial Network uses convolutional neural networks to replicate human creativity. Its results improve as it learns, leading many to say that AI is creative.
Others attest that creativity comes from having new experiences. But in some ways, writing about what happens to you or drawing what you see is the opposite of creativity; in your own creative collections is the ability to create something new in addition to taking notes.
Since AI will never be able to overcome death or travel in a rickshaw, any story it writes is completely fictional. Some would say that makes it more creative than, say, a person writing a dramatized account of an adventure they had.
But new experiences also make people think about the world in a different way, not just as a basis for stories. Visiting a monastery or caring for a sick spouse can trigger previously unknown emotions or thoughts that lead to self-reflection, which is one definition of creativity.
Will AI ever be creative?
It depends on how you define creativity. In many ways, neural networks act like the human brain, and you can draw parallels between humans and AI programs generating ideas. But if creativity requires self-expression, then artificial intelligence is definitely not creative, because it neither feels nor needs to express itself. It just does what you ask of it.
The AI software has no internal cues like sadness, joy or anger to inspire it to write songs. It has no religious beliefs, favorite tastes, desires, fears, hopes or dreams. It’s like a brain in a jar on a long-forgotten shelf, perfectly preserved and numb, always looking outward through a cloud of formaldehyde. He always needs someone to guide him. Without human ideas, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
It is possible that artificial intelligence may one day surpass human creativity and intelligence. If people panicked when chimpanzees bent a few sticks, their collective egos could be crushed if computers started writing better poetry than they could.
Maybe it won’t be the end of the world, though. There’s something to be said for learning to accept your limitations. Regardless of whether AI can become truly creative or not, humans can eventually get behind the fact that they created AI in the first place without our input, it will just be a few lines of code.