From the beginning of our species, there is evidence that we valued the arts. We rarely question the talisman of ‘creativity’ as part of what separates us from other animals. We are creative in ways that allows for mystical attributions. The creativity flag flies from a pole on a hill occupied by writers, artists, poets, musicians, filmmakers, dancers, and other creatives. The creatives as a class and cling to the belief that their creations are safe from artificial intelligence displacement.
Unfortunately, this worldview is a delusion. AI has breached the creative hill. You can expect our creative forces, in time, will be overrun.
An article by Elizabeth Kiehner titled What Artificial Intelligence Will Do to Creativity shows evidence of how AI has partnered with filmmakers, composers, horror writers and website designers.
There is an AI pattern of encroachment into the realm of human social, artistic, economic and political activities. Each domain has been or is in the process of disrupting the pre-existing human-centric model. Muscle-powered labour was the first to be displaced. High-level abstract thinking and analysis, research, information gathering, testing and prediction found at the heart of mathematical theory and models, and underlying law, medicine, accounting, teaching, design, etc. have witnessed the intrusion of AI. People in these professions are as vulnerable as auto workers. We aren’t quite at that point but the hand-writing is on the wall. The old stability of gradual change and small data basis and containment of knowledge has ended. But these professions, in theory, are where really smart people are found.
Our concept of IQ is based on a person’s ability to accurately and quickly process abstract symbols and to manipulate information. Max Tegmark in Life 3.0 (2017) defines intelligence as “the ability to accomplish complex goals.” He goes further to say that it makes no sense to quantify intelligence by reference to an IQ number as such reductionism leaves out key components such as “capacity for logic, understanding, planning, emotional knowledge, self-awareness, creativity, problem solving and learning.”
A few people, we call them geniuses, perform exceptionally well at problem solving, logic and learning. We can start with something simple like a tear drop. A genius can predict its rate of fall, and work out a formula to describe the chemical composition, volume, atomic weight and pressure. After all a tear drop from a scientific point of view is no more difficult than to analyze than a drop of whiskey. Sometimes they are found together. But science isn’t that interested in this social and emotional connection.
Another form of intelligence which goes under a variety of names from emotional to creative intelligence draws upon a different way of looking at the tear drop. Was it the result of joy, sadness, frustration, pain, or loneliness? The creatively intelligent seeks out the hundreds of possible stories about the human condition she found inside a tear drop.
The stories that move, guide, entertain, thrill and inspire us are shared and read. They shape lives. They change attitudes. They change our relationship with each other.
Creative people find a way to express what can’t be easily reduced to abstract principles, formula or theories. There is a degree of freedom at work in the creative examination of a tear drop. The expression may be irrational or absurd but it conveys a deep feeling embraced by some. We sort our friends by the nature of their stories. The ability to read stories in a tear drop isn’t a reading from our DNA. The skill is taught. Some have more talent than others but the meaning of a tears comes from immersion in the daily bath of cultural values. This learning process is uploading social and cultural software.
We have people who have use their high IQ to describe and interpret a world of abstract symbols that make predictions. Without such people you wouldn’t have the technology that allows you to read this essay on your computer. Inside this ultra-rational world, the descriptions which emerged have been calculated with a degree of precision and exactitude. Your GPS would be useless without such calculation proving to be highly accurate. 1% of the world admires the beauty of such equations. The rest of us struggle along thinking we have the same understanding from metaphors like “black holes”, “dark matter”, “dark energy” and “worm holes”. Our language is enriched by metaphors. That wealth also conceals a poverty of precision.
As tear drops illustrate the world of the abstract mathematical formula and the world of metaphors are different and only roughly reflect a common bond in reality.
A tear drops trajectory has a mathematical formula that is highly predictive. But why that tear drop emerged at this moment has no formula. Given the tools in development and growing understanding of neuroscience, the future may bring a creative-edge AI that can spin tear drop stories with the best of our writers. We are at the very beginning of a new age of innovation. If I had to make a prediction when that hill of creativity will be overrun and the human creators are pushed over the side, it is when AI can tailor the story around your own goals, personality, background and desires, and offers you the chance to assist in the creation.
We might expect something like a Facebook addiction that arises once you discover creative content that is your personal mirror. You look into that mirror and see a reflection of your personal worldview honed from the millions of data points. As many billions of sensors will enter every aspect of your life, no stone will be unturned, you will think nothing or do nothing that doesn’t add to an information trail. AI follows those bread crumbs. As any artist knows, if you trace the tracks long enough, you will be able to capture hearts. When that happens, we will look to AI to explore the stories in our own tear drops. Because that will be the only set of stories most people will be interested in searching for answers.