Are Machine truly Creative?

Laila, image courtesy of Libre AI


There are several attempts of describing creativity, even though it is one of those concepts that can not be tied down to one immutable definition.


Margaret Boden, a research professor of cognitive science at the University of Sussex, has suggested that artifacts or ideas, to be truly creative, should be novel, valuable, and surprising.

In the last few years, Generative Art has shaken up the debate and called into question the concept of creativity in relation to the machine. It has been suggested that the only way to understand if a work produced by the machine is really creative is to rely to the comparison with human creativity.

But can machines develop creativity on their own? Can we appreciate art made by a machine? Do we need to understand art before to appreciate it?

In this ongoing and lively debate, not everybody thinks it is good to divide AI and Humans. Douglas Eck, head of Project Magenta at Google (a research project exploring the role of machine learning in the process of creating art and music), says: "Creativity has always been embedded in culture and so has technology. To force this factorization - first understanding human creativity independent from the rest of the world so that we can understand how it all mixes - is completely missing the point...We should not say, hold on, let's try to understand human creativity before machine creativity."[1]

Even if Boden's criteria focus on product and not on process, we can see that up to these days, AI has produced things that are beautiful and that have satisfied to some extent the three points described by the professor.

AI Art, and in general computer art, can be recognized as a creative expression of a collaboration/interaction/relationship between the human artist and the machine.

Perhaps we should start to focus more on how an artwork talks to us. Instead of living the man / machine dichotomy as a factor that prevents us from appreciating art because it is made by or through machines, we should remember that art is also an emotional and visceral experience where the medium becomes less important than the experience.




[1]"The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity", Arthur I.Miller, 2019, MIT