The Matrix and The Terminator want us to buy into the notion that digital machines will end up outsmarting us. These big screen spectacles propose that bots and AI computerized configurations will catch onto the creative process to seize control from their human creators. Well, the possibility seems part true; we are more dependent on bots, drones, phone apps and automation in different shapes with every passing day. So is there some realism in all this sci-fi mumbo-jumbo?
Let’s take a grassroots look at the creative process: creativity is said to be at work when something startling is offered to us; coming as a huge surprise, yet getting positive attention because it makes our life better. The question is, where did invention begin and how did it progress to be a new or improved marketable product (or service) – sometimes changing our lifestyle.
Let’s start with emotions: everyone knows what it feels like to have an adrenalin rush, identified by spikes of excitement. Emotions are the energizers, indeed the accelerators of the creative process. Humans with innovative ideas and driven by emotions, generally bounce ideas off others. Brainstorming then shoots off fresh thoughts that build into something much bigger than the participants ever imagined. This dynamic or “expansionism of thinking” is known as synergy. The interesting thing is that the players in a synergistic interaction are often unlike one another, seeing things from entirely different perspectives. Yet differentiation is exactly what the creative process needs, as long as there is that one huge intangible – participant chemistry.
Back to the bots: myriad think tanks are grappling with Artificial Intelligence like IBM’s Watson; trying to create a Star Wars computer creative process. The fly in the ointment is that machines are unable to feel or transcend emotional borders so the instinctive catalyst to bounce ideas off other computers is absent. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be programmed to do it anyway; thus igniting a “computer synergy” that connects disparate contributions from other data sources to build creative solutions. Seems logical, but in this case, logic isn’t the answer.
The absence of human intuition (computers may call it “irrationality”) somehow dissolves the essential chemistry from the digital creative process.
The Modern Creative Process
Computer scientists, try as they may, haven’t yet unraveled the dilemma. Truthfully, human chemistry/intuition are dysfunctional concepts when it comes to virtual thinking and it makes all the difference. Still, there is a vital role AI can play in the creative process.
While mankind is decidedly creative, it is not creative enough. For various reasons, humans have closed their minds to important fields begging for creative input. AI can spur new thinking by triggering human curiosity and opening awareness of new possibilities. Not only that, it’s common that the creative process stalls at critical stages along the way (i.e. lack of synergistic impulse). The computer is extremely useful for testing theses at these junctures, retriggering the next adrenalin rush toward the final invention. In other words, machines’ biggest contribution to the creative process is in the role of a virtual assistant. It can inspire and challenge the human boundaries of thinking. Inclusion of bots in the process will establish new realms where human creativity is encouraged and fostered – freeing humans from “non-creative” tasks.
The first step is making your bot a bit more humanlike. Botsociety offers a wide range of features that can ensure your product doesn’t become just another talking robot.
Also published on Medium.