Artificial Creativity

tanmay
tanmay
Oct 2, 2017 · 3 min read
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Image for post

Try this simple experiment, look at the paintings below. Which one do you like for your living room wall?

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Source: https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.07068
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Image for post
Source: https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.07068

If I told you both of them were created by an AI system, does that change your answer?

We are entering an era of computing where AI systems are challenging the conventional wisdom. They are forcing us to rethink what is possible — including the definition of creativity.

We, as humans, have always believed that creativity is what makes us unique, so naturally, it is offensive to suggest that a few lines of code can produce a painting you won’t mind hanging in your living room or a song that you have on your playlist or cocktail recipe that would make you famous at your party (I can vouch for the last one by the way).

However, if you really think about it, creating art is first and foremost the ability to identify the right combination of color, notes or ingredients from the infinite possibilities — painting a picture, recording a song or mixing a drink is execution. Of course, execution can be creative in it’s own ways. (Just look all the amazing cover songs on Youtube.)

Today, an AI system does not have the range of human mind to identify combinations outside of the domain it is trained on. However, an AI system has almost instant access to an ever growing set of possibilities to pick and choose from. It is not unreasonable to expect that over time these systems are able grow their “creative space” and come up with new possibilities before a human mind can.

Execution can be a lot more varied, coming up with a recipe or creating a digital JPEG is a significantly easier than actually cooking food or painting using a brush. There is still lot of room for improvement in execution that will take another few decades to conquer but companies are already working on robots that can cook (http://www.moley.com/).

There is a lot of great discussion on the philosophical idea of creativity and AI, including this article from MIT Tech Review. It is open for debate whether these AI systems are creative or simply mimicking us.

If you ask me, I say to these AI systems, “Bring it on and may the best artist win.” I think whether it comes from a human mind or an algorithm, it shouldn’t diminish our capability as humans to appreciate art. Advancement of AI is inevitable and in the end creativity wins — even if it is “artificial”.

PS: To answer the original question. I would choose the second painting. It reminds me of a beautiful windy Cape Cod summer morning on an empty beach.

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A very special thanks to Prof. Ahmed Elgammal from Department of Computer Science at Rutgers University for providing images to use in the article from his research. You can read more about it in his research on Creative Adversarial Networks here and read the actual paper here-https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.07068.

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