The ‘Art’ In Artificial Intelligence

Author Brian Green once said that art makes us human. Across the board it seems that many of us agree. Some call it culture, some call it creativity, but we all seem to believe that art in some form differentiates us humans from the rest of the living world or other forms of intelligence.

A recent report from UK-based innovation org Nesta argues that countries should nurture their creative industries and concentrate on jobs in creative industries as artificial intelligence might take other jobs away. But what happens when artificial intelligence starts to create art, which we thought was a just-human domain?

Google recently held an exhibition in San Francisco which featured art created by its ‘art generator’ Deep Dream. I have to say the art pieces – they sold for quite a bit by the way – were intriguing.

Google’s Deep Dream works with neural networks. Usually mechanisms like that are used to identify photos or faces online. In this instance, instead of recognizing a face, the program searches for patterns. These patterns – regardless of how small – are enhanced over and over again by Deep Dream. The finished art works look a lot different than the originals and the reason for that is that we don’t recognize half the patterns Deep Dream does.

The idea of computers creating art doesn’t make sense to some. It might even make you feel uneasy. Computers are logical and rational – they don’t hold any of the attributes that we ascribe to art or culture:  on mood, nuance and emotion, as noted in an article on Economic Insights.

Mark Riedl, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology hits the nail on its head in saying that creativity might not be unique to human intelligence, but that it’s one of the ‘hallmarks’ of our intelligence.

Maybe the question isn’t, or shouldn’t, be if artificial intelligence can perform certain tasks – like creating art for instance. Instead we should think about how impressive it is if something to be made by us humans – regardless of whether that’s art or artificial intelligence. After all people like technology, but for the most part, people really love other people.

Image source: Mike Tyca

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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