Deep Learning: Can You Model My Creative Thinking?

READING SUGGESTION: to be read at the weekend, in the evening, over a lovely cup of tea or glass of wine, in the light shade of a majestic palm tree, ideally at 25.5°C, on a pure white beach while listening to the calm waves of the Pacific Ocean. Customisable parameters: wine type and temperature.

Data mining… Big data mining… Deep learning… All very popular and truly exciting! Beyond its trendy side, we can already see tangible benefits in health management, a better understanding of the biological responses and more precise disease progression mechanisms. But as it is weekend while I’m writing, I am going to look at this topic from a different perspective, a more chilled one: could deep learning help us with imagination and inspiration? More pertinently, can you model and enhance my creativity? Or are we still talking philosophy?

Consider the following artistic process: you get some idea, maybe a vague one at first, nevertheless it seems and feels amazing! Your mind and heart start racing and you feel that it is now or never, so you go for it! You drop everything and start drawing and writing scenarios after scenarios, hours after hours, squeezing that brain of yours of all creativity it can possible give in the hope to add more shape and form to your dream. You take your mind though a more or less organised journey (and BTW here it would be best to know exactly which part of the brain to organise and which to let free). Eventually you have a plan, a choice of colours, canvas size and shape and get down to the next, more serious step: the creation itself. Then, big surprise! You feel that you are stuck and that that grand idea of yours is no longer so grand anymore. And you ask yourself: could that be true, am I losing the motivation, or is it just the human being’s typical self-sabotaging behaviour? So, what do you do? You give up? Well, it depends. Recognising when to stop is a success in itself, so here you just have to drop your exciting imaginative world and purely use your intellect to see if it was a dull idea to start with, or it is worth exploring further.

Anyhow, you might decide to take one deep breath and carry on. At this point you’ve already had doubts and doubts are translated in major creativity plunge. Not precisely measurable yet with the algorithms at hand as far as I know, but you are aware of it. And as you are aware, you can do something about it. Starting from making yourself a nice cup of tea, to getting out into the nature, browsing through old paintings and photos with a vague direction yet intentionally without an exact focus to encourage the flow of imagination, listening to inspirational music (the tunes that you know work for you in that very moment), reading something that lifts your spirits and feeds your mind, doing yoga or dancing etc. Again, whatever it works for the unique you in that very unique moment, while keeping an eye on the goal. Not sure it is going to work? Try anyway! Sometimes you surprise yourself when ideas start flowing while you are “into it”. And you do so until you are satisfied with your creation. So, that’s it, you just do it. Intuitively, not having the foggiest idea what mathematical calculations your brain used. Smart, isn’t it? That… or it’s what we “humanly” call knowing ourselves. So? What do you think? Can you do it? Can you model “me” and my artistic decision-making process? It has plenty of learning points, is individual-dependent and it may even have saddle points, so it should be doable, right?

And… as we are on this beautiful beach, temperature is just perfect and the glass of wine is magically always full and at a constant temperature, I will add another challenge into the spin of your creative mind: yes, you can already pick from algorithms that have learned to paint like Van Gogh or Picasso (although to be fair not just like me yet), but what is the satisfaction after all, if we cannot improve our own creativity levels, perfect ourselves, or just… do it? I am not thinking of the final product here, its quality (debatable and subjective anyway in the sphere of art) and the time of completion, but rather of the benefit that the creation itself brings to the human being. An AI (Artificial Intelligence) “friend” can do it just as well, if not better, but is that what we really want? There are plenty of studies and evidence to suggest that subjects involved in the creation of arts like painting, dancing, writing, especially if not using their maternal language, have an increased level of emotional satisfaction and healing, self-image and better cognition overall. You have no idea how to hold a brush or have phobia of writing? Even better! Pushing yourself beyond your limits can only benefit your brain. Question is: can you find an AI friend to firstly give you the courage to start, keep you motivated, and then help you improve yourself? And if you do, how can you make this as natural and as simply as possible? And, just for now, I am thinking outside implanting a chip in your brain with the algorithm (well, you might need a library in fact, but let’s leave this for another story). The result would be a human-machine “collaboration” that could truly have a tangible therapeutic benefit and which, in fact, might even make us happier.

Well, we’ll get there, and pretty soon I believe. And then we’ll find some other exciting things to look forward to, because the closer we look, the more we see, and the more we see, the closer we look.

Now, my dear reader, are you still there?… In the shade, by the ocean?… Good… Have another sip of your perfect wine, close your eyes and just let your mind wonder freely in the fresh pinkish-tinted breeze. Can you also hear the “Temple of Silence” by Deuter? Softly but loud enough to open your mind and lift your spirits? It’s coming from nowhere, but you just don’t care. You listen and tangentially, just tangentially, your mind is drifting towards the wonderful creations you are going to make soon.

Have a great creative time ahead, creative humans!

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