Humans Don’t Have Exclusivity on Creativity

A Lesson from a Recovering Bio-Narcissist

Do you believe that creativity is a uniquely human endeavor, that AI will never be creative? If yes, don’t fret, since it’s a widespread belief. For example, searching for “creativity” images will turn up many pictures that include the brain (below left); and similarly for quotes (below right).


As machines and AI surround us more, we like to demonstrate characteristics that are “uniquely human”. Creativity intuitively feels like one of those things.

This belief makes us feel valued. If “AI can’t be creative” then at least AI can’t take away human jobs involving creativity.

Some even claim that, in the act of being creative, our brains take advantage of higher computing paradigms that Turing machines don’t handle. That is, there’s “something” in our brain biology that modern computers cannot compute.

In short, we use arguments about human creativity to cling to our “bio” selves.

If you have believe that AI can’t be creative, let me tell you: you’re wrong. You’re letting your bio-narcissism cloud your judgement about what can and can’t be creative.

If one can show even a single example of how computers demonstrate creativity, it rebuts the whole “AI can’t be creative” argument. In fact, there are plenty of examples of machine creativity.

Below are four examples of machine creativity from Genetic Programming (GP). GP is an artificial intelligence subfield, focusing on evolving computer programs. I spent a decade in this field.

Ref [clockwise from top right]: Lee Spector, Greg Hornby, Trent McConaghy, Greg Hornby

Clockwise from top left are: automatic creative design of jewelry (Greg Hornby), quantum computing algorithms (Lee Spector), RF Antennae (Jason Lohn & Greg Hornby), and analog circuits (yours truly). That’s a small sampling. The Humies have dozens more, and other GP research papers more yet. Much of this work goes back a decade or two. And, it and continues.

Machine creativity is not limited to GP. Another recent example is deep learning, demonstrated by the creative moves that AlphaGo demonstrated when playing Lee Sedol.

Creativity is not restricted to humans.

I was once a bio-narcissist. Creative AI has convinced me to move beyond that.