• m-theory
    In this video a method for exploring how computers can be creative is discussed.
    The idea is that these computers have learned how to recognize things visually and that process was then reversed so that the computers create visual imagery.

    Here is another example of a program that writes poetry.

    Here is a link to the bot or not website...give it a try yourself and see if you can tell the difference between machine generated poetry and the poetry that humans have written.

    My question is do you believe that these machines are truly being creative or is just a trick of programming in your opinion?
    1. Can computers be genuinely creative and/or create art? (21 votes)
        Not sure
  • zookeeper
    Of course an artificial intelligence can do anything a human brain can, because an artificial intelligence can be as similar to a human brain as you want.
  • Cavacava
    Hi M-Theory & Zookeeper

    I liked Schwartz's talk, his semi-conclusion of a computer as a mirror. The computer can mirror that normativity, I am not convinced that it can go beyond the norm. Kurzweil's Singularity will be normative.
  • m-theory

    That is the question I am probing.
    Art is somewhat subjective in how it is interpreted by an audience.
    So the normative is a dynamic and shifting thing that depends upon the eye of the beholder.
  • Cavacava
    Perhaps the question 'is all art normative' needs to be answered. I think that progression in art is a dialectical progression, mostly normative but not entirely normative otherwise it would not progress. It may be that all progress is just a shuffling of existing concepts in a normative discourse we share with others.

    When we talk about creativity in art, aren't we talking about how a 'thing',an art-work, reaches out to us in a way that goes beyond it self as a thing qua thing.
  • m-theory

    Here is why I believe these computers are being guinely creative but I will concede your point that it is not art in the traditional sense of what this term has come to mean.

    In the first example I showed this was a program that learned what things were and is then instructed to produce an image of that thing based upon what it has learned.
    I think it is fair to say that is an example of genuine creativity because there is some motive there to succeed at producing the thing in question as an image.
    It does not simply copy and paste an image...it starts from nothing and eventually converges upon an image that resembles what it has learned is that thing.
    In the first example the computer is trying to express what the word bird means to it based on what it has learned about how birds look through a visual sense in order to depict that thing visually.

    The same is somewhat true of the poetry writing computer as well but I agree that it is quite a bit different from being creative the way a person is creative and/or artistic.
    It was taught what a poem was and it is trying to express what it has learned when it composes a poem.
    The difference in this case compared to the first one is that it has no attachment to the terms it only themselves in any sensory way.
    The computer however has never sensed, touched, smelt, tasted, or heard anything and so the terms are just strings of symbols that it arranges artfully/creatively based on other strings of symbols it has learned about.

    Now you might argue that in these examples there is no emotional attachment for the computers and that art requires emotional experiences to be truly art.
    I would concede that point...but I would still argue that the computers are being truly creative even if what they creates is not art in the emotional sense of the term.
    I will have to agree with you that these machines have no emotional experiences to portray with their creativity and that they do not hope to inspire any emotions in others so they are not making art in that sense of the word.
    But even though these machines did not intend to inspire emotions they did succeed in my case.
    I was quite impressed with how well they were able to perform.

    I think it is fair to say that these program have learned to be creative in ways that humans can appreciate even if they do not do so that their creations may be appreciated.
  • Cavacava
    Thinking a little more about this.

    AlphaGo condenses enormous quantities of data and then filters its findings, arriving at new combinations that fit the rules of discourse...combinations that have never been seen prior to its formulation. Beautiful combinations. I think a machine can be creative in this manner. Input determines output, regardless of how virtually disparate the results.

    Can a machine go beyond the 'universe of information' it has access to, we can also ask man the same question so ... is there a creative the ability to start a new series, where none existed, one that is apart from current discourses. In the twentieth century works by Duchamp, and Warhol seem to suggest a bifurcation in art, where art becomes self absorbed with its surface, a surface that is no longer representational. The conversation between art and anti-art, kinda schizoid, may be something new.

    Man seems to be able to go beyond, to able to rise up against societal programming.
  • Mayor of Simpleton
    Are you familiar with Emily Howell?

    Emily Howell is a computer program created by David Cope during the 1990s. Emily consists of an interactive interface that allows both musical and language communication. By encouraging and discouraging the program, Cope attempts to "teach" it to compose music more to his liking. The program uses only the output of a previous composing program called Experiments in Musical Intelligence (Emmy) as a source database for its musical choices. (2005), MIT Press.


  • Bitter Crank
    Emily Howell is a computer program created by UC Santa Cruz professor of music David Cope.[1] Emily Howell is an interactive interface that "hears" feedback from listeners, and builds its own musical compositions from a source database, derived from a previous composing program called Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI).[2] Cope attempts to “teach” the program by providing feedback so that it can cultivate its own "personal" style.[1] The software appears to be based on latent semantic analysis.[3] [Wikipedia]

    FUGUE, by Emily Howell:

    I would be most impressed by a computer that interrupted its performance of the task you had assigned to it, by saying, "Your work is just too boring. Here, listen to this song I have been composing."

    A computer becoming bored and deciding to make up a tune would be a sign of computer intelligence. Emily Howell is a demonstration of David Cope's skill in instructing the computer. I find Emily Howell's composition interesting enough, but it did begin at David Cope's instigation.
  • Mayor of Simpleton
    A computer becoming bored and deciding to make up a tune would be a sign of computer intelligence.Bitter Crank

    Actually a computer with a midlife crisis would do it for me... complaining that the battery doesn't hold the charge as well as it used to or getting annoyed by all the faster younger computers trying to be important by simply being loud.


    If a computer can do that, then you have me sold. ;)


  • Vadim Chekletsov
    Ja, for sure) they ALREADY can. And the evolution accelerates. Both artificial and hybryd (bio-techno-social) ones)
  • mcdoodle
    I believe the art of orca and clever songbirds would be more interesting. They are fellow beings. Emily is a machine-phenomenon who has experienced only what her creator opens up to her.
  • Janus

    I checked out the 'bot or not' website, voted on about fifty poems and got two wrong.

    For me the clue is that the human poems always embody some thread of an imaginative theme, however attenuated or abstruse.

    It might sound like an excuse, but I honestly think the two I got wrong were due to lapses in concentration.
  • jkop
    There was an interesting article about the history of creativity a couple of years ago in The New Yorker. Here's a quote from it:

    In the ancient world, good ideas were thought to come from the gods, or, at any rate, from outside of the self. During the Enlightenment, rationality was the guiding principle, and philosophers sought out procedures for thinking, such as the scientific method, that might result in new knowledge. People back then talked about “imagination,” but their idea of it was less exalted than ours. They saw imagination as a kind of mental scratch pad: a system for calling facts and images to the mind’s eye and for comparing and making connections between them. They didn’t think of the imagination as “creative.” In fact, they saw it as a poor substitute for reality; Hobbes called it “decayed sense.”

    It was Romanticism, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which took the imagination and elevated it, giving us the “creative imagination.”
    Joshua Rothman

    So, it seems that throughout the modern era "being creative" basically meant being imaginative, and a person could thus use his/her imagination to be considered creative regardless of whether it resulted in the production of stuff, such as books, pictures, or other objects.

    Nowadays a person is "creative" when s/he produces stuff (e.g. decorates, knits, draws, paints, photographs, writes etc.), or has a "creative job" (e.g. design, communication, entertainment, producing fine arts and so on).

    So, perhaps the meaning of creativity has simply been redefined again? Furthermore, it seems to be referred to as a means for the production of stuff, or the accumulation of certain capacities, and as such it seems unsurprising to me that it could be automated.

    But it ain't the romantic/modern version of creativity.
  • m-theory

    Way better than me.
    I was wrong about half the time.
    I even write poetry too (or well I used to) so I thought I would have an advantage.
  • Janus

    Maybe you're just a bit out of practice. I have been writing poetry for abot (I left this genuinely accidental typo on purpose because it seems so apt) forty five years, and continue to do so.

  • charleton
    Algorithms randomised but written by humans do not imply any creativity on the part of the machine, no matter how unexpected the results.
    A machine knows nothing, and so is not acting with volition required by the art of artistic creation.
  • duncan
    The issue here seems to me to be skewed, firstly one has to recognise that artificial intelligence is produced by human hand, with this in mind we return to the question of art and its engagement with productive forces. Arvatov, Benjamin and others have stressed the importance of arts engagement with the means of production / reproduction as artistic praxis, art even in the form of painting has relied less and less upon the expressive hand of the artist and more upon mechanical and digital modes of production. For me the use of artificial intelligence in artistic production is a logical extension of this
  • Terrapin Station
    truly being creative or is just a trick of programmingm-theory

    I'm not sure what the difference is supposed to be there.
  • Christoffer

    Art needs to be a creation with intended communication of something.
    It then needs to be combined with a receiver (viewer) of that communication.
    The communicated message goes through interpretation by the receiver and the combined event between the communicator and receiver through that art is how I define what art is in its most fundamental form.

    Therefore, a thing cannot create art since it lacks the intention of saying something with it. People often say that beauty in nature is art, but that is not art, beauty is not art, nature is not art. Art is intentional.

    So when we talk about an A.I that creates something, first we must define if this A.I truly has the intelligence or is just an algorithm simulating intelligence.

    Does it understand that it creates something intentionally for interpretations by receivers? In the case of current A.I:s no, not even close. These AI systems are algorithmic synthetic intelligences. I often say that people lump together too much under "AI", which leads to confusion as to what AI truly is. I define any current AI as SI, synthetic intelligence or ALi, Algorithmic Intelligences. They have no self-awareness but can be programmed (in the future) to act so close to the illusion of human intellect that we will be fooled by it. For day to day life, these SI and ALi:s will function as companion "apps" and smart-things as they act in science fiction films. But they will never be able to think freely for themselves in the way we think about true intelligence.

    True AI happens when the intelligence is self-aware, capable of independent actions and act out its own will based on desires. A true AI that evolves without human-like parameters will never be able to communicate with us since it acts within its own realm. It would be like trying to communicate with super-advanced aliens. But if an AI is programmed to develop a human intellect and capable of acting out emotion-like responses and have human-like desires and fears, it will be able to communicate with us.

    At that stage, it will be able to create in the sense we view art. It will be able to create with an intention of something beyond just telling us straight up about something. They will understand the importance of interpretation by the receiver, in this case, us other humans.

    But that leads to the question, or rather a conclusion; if the created art demands an AI to have an intellect and intelligence that resembles us, humans, it would essentially just be another "human being" who creates art. A new individual, not by flesh but by silicon, but with the same kind of desires and emotions as we have.

    This is essentially the argument I have worked out about why human art can never be replaced by any machine or another being that do not function in the same way as we humans do. Art as we define it, exists within our realm of not only understanding facts and knowledge, but emotion, desires and fears. We cannot apply that to something that lacks those human elements without the resulting creation being as empty as when someone says "everything is art". Essentially my opinion on this conclusion is that people who look at these produced images and say it is art, essentially are the same who say that everything is art, which in my opinion makes the word "art" meaningless. The specific computers making this imagery presented at TED are just algorithms, they know nothing of what they themselves are doing. It would be like me throwing a hand grenade into a room filled with paint cans and say that the hand grenade painted the art on the walls, not my act of throwing the hand grenade in there. The logic fails completely.
  • TheMadFool
    My question is do you believe that these machines are truly being creative or is just a trick of programming in your opinion?m-theory

    That this question is being asked speaks volumes. Is human creativity such a big deal?

    Consider a ''normal'' computer and an AI computer. There's nothing fundamentally different between the two (all algorithms) and yet one ''acts'' like a human and the other doesn't.
  • Tim3003
    A computer can create, just as a monkey can, but is what it creates art? Art is virtually impossible to define as it's so subjective, but it is usually measured by its effect - in emotional and intellectual terms - on its human audience. A great artist is someone who can recognise what it takes to produce these effects and do it at will. I think we are a long way from a computer algorithm which can duplicate this. I think art will be the last bastion of man's sense of superiority over AI, but I don't know if or when that wall will be breached. Still, even if AI evolves into its own conscious life-form, would what it considers of aesthetic value fit our tastes?
  • hachit
    I think they can be. My question is who is the artist the computer or the programer.
  • Brett
    Who is the artist, the pencil or the artist?
  • Christoffer
    A computer can create, just as a monkey can, but is what it creates art? Art is virtually impossible to define as it's so subjective,Tim3003

    As I defined it

    Art needs to be a creation with intended communication of something.
    It then needs to be combined with a receiver (viewer) of that communication.
    The communicated message goes through interpretation by the receiver and the combined event between the communicator and receiver through that art is how I define what art is in its most fundamental form.

    It doesn't matter if the art is modified and later perceived in the wrong way. Just as Greek statues are collectively considered white marble, they were originally painted (in comparison looked quite ridiculous to the monolithic nature of how they look now), but the fundamental truth is still that they were created by an artist with intention and the receiver interprets the art. If there is no art-intentional agent, there is no art. If anything and everything can be considered art, then everything is art and it loses its specificity in language.

    As I also mentioned, an A.I that creates art must be its own art-intention agent, it cannot be programmed to follow rules, it must be able to interpret reality and mix them with subjective thought. An algorithm cannot do this, it is programmed and has no idea of what it is doing. If the computer subjectively knows it creates art, it does so with intention, otherwise its the one programming the computer who did the art through algorithmic randomness. But if a computer reaches the level of doing art by how we define humans doing art, they will need to be treated as artists and individuals of those thoughts.
  • hachit
    that is the answer is get from most people. My question is more focused on agency (can a robot be human) but that question is probably for a different thread
  • tim wood
    There's process and product and perception (of the product). The fulcrum of this entire discussion is going to depend on how "artist," "art," and "creativity" are defined. Since that is not done, the discussion will belong to the loudest and most insistent.

    I suspect that proper definitions of these terms will lead us to a sense of a quality of cognition that arguably machines don't have. That is, machines can produce art-like things, but that cannot be art, art properly defined

    That definition, excavated, it seems to me, will involve a sense of mortality and all that implies - and it implies a lot.

    Along these lines, there is a chess program called (I think) alpha-zero. Distinctive because it has not been "taught" how to play chess. Apparently was "taught" the rules of chess. Turned loose to self-"educate" itself by playing games of chess against itself, it apparently turned itself into a grand-master in a matter of hours and currently beats all comers including other programs. If, however, we say it plays chess or is a chess player, that seems not quite right.
  • Brett

    I’m being a bit flippant there. The whole idea of creativity itself is a big enough subject, let alone whether an A.I can be creative. My point was that an A.I. Is not independent. Can it even create and turn on its own power source? Like so many other areas I suspect the idea of creativity will be redefined so that an A.I. can then be said to be creative. Even a lot of people who regard themselves as creative are not. Nor is the primate who daubs paper with paint. Creativity seems to be an impulse that must be made real. Going from the impulse to the material and carrying that impulse successfully forward is the difference. Of course it can all be called subjective. But I don’t believe the A.I. can have that impulse. And anyway, who is going to declare that, yes, the A.I. has been creative, an artist or a scientist, or god help us, a critic. Maybe what is an essential point here is that man alone owns art and does not understand it.

    Am I straying too far from the subject here?
  • hachit

    Am I straying too far from the subject here?
    No you still in the realm of aesthetics (the philosophy of art) and not estemelyolgy wich I was leaning towards.

    How ever you did put you answer to is there something that makes something inheritly beautifully?
    And/or in this case creative.

    At this point it might be a good idea to define creativity.

    The dictionary says
    the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

    To me creativity is not subjective because subjective is to the individual, when I believe we need a group of people to say yes or no. Secondly it does need to be original.
    Lastly if one person sees differently he is "wrong" like how I know someone who says baseball is not a sport, he has the right to his opinion and the right to say it's not a sport but that will not stop everyone else from saying it is one.
    I think you can say the same principle to are when applied to art.

    And anyway, who is going to declare that, yes, the A.I. has been creative, an artist or a scientist, or god help us, a critic.

    In short we are going to. As it looks to me you agree on that though, please say otherwise if I'm wrong.

    Maybe what is an essential point here is that man alone owns art and does not understand it.

    We don't need to understand something to use it, the Roman engineers are prove of that. All we can do is try to make sense of it in the long run.
    Most of the logistic class has a hard time with art because it not logical,

    the question boils down to this do you believe art needs to be understood, or do you believe that we are as humans responseable for defining what is art.

    I go with the second one.
  • Brett

    I don’t think art needs to be understood, unless it’s very obscure, then it might need some sort explaining for those who like things to be clear. It might be interesting for someone to write about art, but it’s not necessary for the art itself to exist, and the writing about art is another creative act itself, so in some ways it’s removing itself from its subject.

    It doesn’t need to be understood except to know that as humans we create it. No other life form does that. Someone might chose to analyse it or measure it, but it’s not necessary. It exists with or without our understanding.

    So, being responsible for defining art seems unnecessary. Only humans create art, so why do we need to define it? To explain it to other life forms who don’t create art?

    An A. I. is not human, so it can’t make art. What it does create, if it does, is something an A. I. produces. Let the A. I. define it.
  • hachit
    ok, if I understand correctly your saying that if something makes art it should be able to call it art instead of a nother entity.
    Am I correct. (It is a convincing argument so I want to make sure I understand correctly)
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