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Digital Perspectives
New views. Applied now.

Digital Perspectives

New Views. Applied Now.

July 05, 2018
AI will kill creative, AI will save creative
By: Lawrence Weber

Will AI save or kill creativity? Elon Musk says the technology is potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Nell Watson, a really interesting tech philosopher and futurist, says machines will be making business decisions—forming companies, deciding strategies, choosing employees—in just a few years.

Creatives often think their work is more secure from the robots than other fields. But is that really true? Are imagination and ingenuity innately human? Or could an algorithm “learn” the rules of being creative?

Big questions. To explore the answers and try and nail down AI’s impact on the creative industries, two of my expert Karmarama colleagues agreed to present the arguments for and against at this year’s CogX.

Making the positive case, Managing Partner Hattie Matthews set out some of the ways she thinks AI will enhance, not kill human creativity. She pointed out that right now AI is much more of a mirror, copying what humans are doing rather than creating new ideas in its own right.

That doesn’t mean creative businesses won’t be affected by the technology. As a creative collaborator with human beings, AI will be an ever more important tool in day-to-day work. It could even start to create entirely new things. As Hattie put it, “AI plus humans can create something greater than the sum of its parts”.

She gave us three recent examples to think about. First, French collective Obvious are creating acclaimed artworks by blending machine learning and human creativity—their first piece even sold to a serious collector for $12,000.

Second, creative agency Rothko used AI to analyse JFK’s voice recordings and recreate the speech he was supposed to deliver on the day he was assassinated. The result is really poignant—and a great example of having a creative idea, then using AI to make it happen.

Third, Skygge have produced the world’s first pop album created as a collaboration between AI and human musicians. It’s had over a million plays on Spotify—and it’s a really interesting example of how AI can enhance creativity.

Sounds convincing. But Karmarama’s CTO Pete Dolukhanov, gave us some reasons to be more worried. When you think of what creativity actually means, it’s arguably about creating ideas that are both novel and useful. If that’s right, there are many examples where AI has already proved its creative credentials.

Whether it’s the Italian architect Artuor Tedeschi who got an AI to create a non-linear but practical design for a bridge, whether it’s the AI-conceived load-bearing bolt that uses half the materials of existing designs, or whether it’s the Californian team who designed a racing car iteratively, feeding the data from each test run back into an AI to refine the design, there are now plenty of examples of AI doing creative things that humans would probably never have been able to.

Whether it’s the Italian architect Artuor Tedeschi who got an AI to create a non-linear but practical design for a bridge, whether it’s the AI-conceived load-bearing bolt that uses half the materials of existing designs, or whether it’s the Californian team who designed a racing car iteratively, feeding the data from each test run back into an AI to refine the design, there are now plenty of examples of AI doing creative things that humans would probably never have been able to.

You just have to look at how AI is already replacing creative tasks, whether that’s predicting successful screenplays, creating soundtracks from scratch, or advising on marketing tactics. The tech is now even creating entire films. They may be pretty rudimentary right now, but it’s a sign of things to come.

So which case is the most compelling? At CogX, a majority of the audience came down in favour of Pete. But the reality probably lies somewhere between his and Hattie’s arguments, with AI augmenting some aspects of creativity, while replacing others. It’s going to be a fascinating thing to watch play out.


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