What About Artificial Creativity?

Artificial Creativity TitleI work on artificial creativity. That’s my main focus of research and development. Some people fix cars, others collect dolls. I work on making machines capable of original thought. The strange thing is that I haven’t been letting it shine through on Think Artificial, mainly because I’ve been searching for the right way to talk about it. But from now on there’ll be regular coverage of this important and almost magical concept. Will computers ever be capable of invention?

Creativity is a very, very complex subject. If you think creativity only involves art, such as making music, writing, painting, dancing or something similar — you’re wrong. Or rather, you’re underestimating the idea. Surely, creativity exhibits itself very strongly amongst artists and is therefore easily associated with them, but that’s nowhere near the whole story.

When we need to fulfill a goal. Say, we’re at our uncles cabin and we want to go fishing in the lake but we don’t have a fishing rod. What do we do? Someone, somebody creative, might go outside and find a branch. Attach a string to that branch and bend a nail for a hook. Somebody else might take it a step further and decide a lousy branch isn’t enough — he wants the fat fish — and fetch a few blankets to use as a net. The third might jog to the store and simply buy a real rod.

What do each of these persons need to do this? Most will agree that we need intelligence. We need to be able to figure out a solution to our problem. But where do the ideas originally come from? Even mundane things involve creative efforts.

Two clusters of interconnected nodesCreativity is invention, it’s creating things. It’s finding solutions to problems. Finding a way to catch underwater creatures involves creating something, and portraying the feeling “anger” on a canvas involves creating something. Even if you don’t have to create something physical, you’re constructing something in you’re mind — creating an idea of what you’re going to do. How are we able to create solutions that we might potentially never have seen or heard of? Moreover, how is this ability to create solutions related to intelligence?

It’s not pure logical deduction. If it were, things would be much simpler (and more boring, I daresay). People often get ideas that seem illogical to pursue, yet continue to think about them. We’re not bound by logic when we imagine. We can imagine quite illogical things. What are these mechanism, why are they here and how do they work?

These are the puzzles I try to decipher every day, in the persuit for a machine that will one day be able to help us invent new things. New machines, new spaceshuttles, computers and medication. The minds of robots, laced with creative abilities, handle unexpected situations on their own initiative.

We’ve already seen AI systems do it to some extent. We keep working on expanding these systems, and they keep getting better at it. I asked earlier whether computers would ever be capable of invention. They are.

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6 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. “But from now on there’ll be regular coverage of this important and almost magical concept. Will computers ever be capable of invention?”

    You, my friend, just made my day.

  2. Great topic… I’m so happy I found this blog.

    Obviously you’ve given this more thought… but I’ve always assumed that desire was integral to human intelligence and creativity. With out desire we would not try to do anything or try to solve anything. It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention” but necessity is based on us having the desire to do things. So I think until robots are built with some type of “needs” they feel compelled to fulfill then true AI will never exist.

    But how do you build a robot to feel compelled to fulfill a need? That’s the real dilemma.

  3. Hrafn

    @Gnorb: You, my friend, just made my day.
    @John: Great topic… I’m so happy I found this blog.

    Glad to hear it! You guys just made my day :)

    I’ve always assumed that desire was integral to human intelligence and creativity. With out desire we would not try to do anything or try to solve anything.

    You’re definitely on the right track here John. Desire and motivation are an integral part of fulfilling or maintaining any goal.

    So I think until robots are built with some type of “needs” they feel compelled to fulfill then true AI will never exist. But how do you build a robot to feel compelled to fulfill a need? That’s the real dilemma.

    Ah. But “needs” come in various shapes and sizes. Especially when you consider that a need is just a particular motivation for action. For example, a bot in a first person shooter has no particular, emotional need to kill human players — but still it strives to fulfill that goal. Similarly, provided that we create mechanisms for creativity, the mechanisms could use themselves to build or invent motivation :) Well, that’s a hack of an explanation [we could go into exploring evolutionary incentives for needs and how they can be replicated]. But still demonstrates the idea to some extent.

  4. Very interesting topic. I am wondering what models you work on wrt. artificial creativity. It is a fine appetizer, but now you got me craving for delicate details ;-)

  5. Hrafn

    Hi Christian.
    I intend to give a proper introduction with an entry on it in the near future; but in essence I’m exploring creativity with regards to emergence.

    It’s a somewhat general exploration at this point as I only recently made a paradigm shift in my dev. efforts. But the idea is to try and utilize emergence for content generation.

    (ps. you have an AI blog! Excellent. We’re too rare a breed.)

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