It’s easy to get caught up with the possibilities of the future as a youth of today because of the amount of technology at our disposal. Generations below us will grow up with these technologies for years to come, thus will continue to develop and innovate. Presently we are witnessing artificial intelligence to become more integrated into the existing systems and networks already available to us. I can’t help but be interested in how this may affect my life and career in the future. so I guess this blog post is a way of me trying to understand it.
The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
Right now it doesn’t seem possible for a computer to be creative at a level which can compete with the great artists, designers and entrepreneurs of today, after all it was the humans who invented computers in the first place, and that took a bit of creativity…right? You could say that creativity can be regarded as one of the most humanistic traits we have over other species on this planet. For example, in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey made in 1968. We see Kubrick depict ‘the dawn of man’ and what could be considered to be the dawn of creativity in this single clip:
The Dawn of Man
If you haven’t already seen 2001 A Space Odyssey, you need to. It’s important to remember where we all come from, and the millions of generations which built this world to be what it is today. In order to really appreciate what we have, and be creative with what we have in order to progress.
There are many examples of computers being programmed in a way which could be considered to be creative. Harold Cohen, former artist and Professor at the University of San Diego started working on a creative art programme called AARON in 1973. By the 90’s ARRON was able to situate objects or people in 3D space in the and could paint in colour. It’s worth mentioning too that ARRON paints, not with pixels but with real paint on canvas. Richard Moss writes about ARRON in an article for New Atlas.
‘Cohen never showed AARON any images, but rather taught his robot with lists of object/body elements and the relationships between them. Fundamental rules, essentially, that allow a robot that has never seen a human or a chair or flower to nevertheless paint something that looks like an abstract representation of those things’.
So the programme has to be given directions as to what it’s painting and the appropriate restraints which can be put in place in order for it to perform, but it interprets it though the physicality of a paint brush enables the characteristics of creativity to be visible. Therefore this could be regarded as a computer being creative.
Painting of pigment on paper by artificially intelligent painter AARON (2004)
More recent developments of Ai was demonstrated with the 3,000 year old game Go. In 2017 Googles artificial intelligence system actually won against the raining world champion Ke Jie. In Go, players take turns placing stones on a 19-by-19 grid, competing to take control of the most territory.
‘It is considered to be one of the world’s most complex games, and is much more challenging for computers than chess.’
Google used an Ai named ‘AlphaGo’ to play against opponents and learn from every move the opposition and itself. Prof Cristianini from the University of Bristol said: ”We should focus on the good things that we can get out of them and be careful not to create situations in which we put ourselves in direct competition with machines.” But this was more a test than anything, the gaming platform is a good starting point for artificial intelligence as the algorithms could be adapted to other fields, such as health care and scientific research. But what’s really interesting about this is the fact that the Ai had taught itself how to play by playing the game, it had adapted itself to be successful against the opulent.
Alpha Go demonstrated that artificial intelligence is capable of being a logically conscious ‘tool’. In the past, all of our tools have been passive. From the tools which hunter gatherers used to the iPhone, our tools only do something with our explicit direction, we are in control. But now it’s possible to enable the computer to explore a process itself by learning and adapting to define the ultimate end-product using data, this is called generative design. And it’s already starting to be used in the automotive industry. Car company Hack Rod and computer programmers Autodesk teamed up to produce the worlds first generatively designed car chassis…designed by a computer programme. Their project started with attaching sensors to a prototype car chassis and driving it round a track for a week. Daniel Terdiman, a San Francisco-based technology journalist wrote about the design process in an article for The Fast Company:
‘The plan has been to take all the data from this automotive nervous system and plug it into Autodesk’s Dreamcatcher, a generative design software system that takes input of design objectives–including types of materials, functional goals, methods of manufacturing, performance criteria, and even cost limits–and spits out numerous design alternatives to satisfy all those requirements. For Mickey and Mouse, the result was a new vehicle chassis design based on all the collected data. Intended to maximise driving performance and efficiency, it could never have been designed by humans.’
Generative design could be considered to be artificial intelligence being creative, it’s generating a design; it’s being innovative in the way it solves a problem through data. And this system doesn’t necessarily have to be confined to physical products, it can be replicated to physical or social problems too, as long as theres an objective and source of data there are no limits. For example transport App City Mapper recently launched a new service called Smart-bus. It uses a system similar to a bus but it’s a 9 seater van, there aren’t any permanent stops and but you book it from your phone. It uses collected data to map the quickest route, sticking to a specific network of roads in order for it to be accessible for other passengers heading in similar directions. Connecting the passengers through the data and using Ai to direct the bus drivers to the passengers. With the increase in the amount of data we produce today, the possibilities are unimadingable as to what an Ai could do with it.
‘The data volumes are exploding, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.’
( Forbes, 2015)
So, the way I see this is that artificial intelligence offers a platform for creative people to use as a tool instead of it undertaking what we would consider to be creative on a more human level. Instead this data to be creatively used by an Ai to then help solve problems to be the best they can be to enable progression. We’re at the dawn of it right now, like the scene in 2001 Space Odyssey but it’s not a bone being smashed up but generative artificial intelligence.