Can Computers Be Creative?

Theory

   Historically, human creativity has been a neglected topic in psychology in general and intelligence testing in particular. Despite this, creativity is considered by most to be an essential component of human intelligence. Consequently, in attempting to answer the question of whether computers can think, it is only natural to ask whether computers can think creatively. Many feel, in fact, that whereas computers can excel in well-structured areas of problem solving - e.g. logic, algebra, etc. - they have little hope of ever producing truly creative work. For a work to be creative, it must be novel and useful- this represents an enormous challenge for AI.

   The first two links below provide readers with general background on human creativity. The next two deal specifically with creativity in the context of AI.

Practice

   If AI is famous for anything, it's the so-called "engineering end-run". The idea that resources should not be spent over philosophical debates, instead focus should be on building actual engineering solutions. Later when we find an implementation that works, it can form the basis of more adequate theory. Many in the field of AI will remind you that this is precisely the strategy that worked quite well for aviation. After almost a century of debate on whether a flying machine would be possible, the first machine was constructed, the debate was solved, and a wealth of new data was produced. With that in mind, there have been several attempts to build creative computers, despite the lack of conceptual and theoretical consensus. The most impressive of these is AARON, a painting program that produces both abstract and lifelike works. How are we to judge whether such works of art are truly creative? Is it sufficient to judge the products or is the process by which they were created the determining factor? Below are two pages which do a particularly good job of summarizing the current applied work in computer creativity. Read the articles, look at the illustrations, and ask yourself if you would ever doubt, under normal circumstances, that the pictures were produced by an intelligent mind.


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