The Emerging Impact of AI Creativity in Daily Life

Category Machine Learning

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AICreativity is growing in social and economic impact, with AI tools such as DALL-E and Midjourney being increasingly part of creative production. AI-generated content has been tested by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) and has achieved a level of creativity comparable to humans, with the potential to provide us with solutions to previously intractable problems, but whose impacts need to be weighed against potential ethical implications.

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Of all the forms of human intellect that one might expect artificial intelligence to emulate, few people would likely place creativity at the top of their list. Creativity is wonderfully mysterious—and frustratingly fleeting. It defines us as human beings—and seemingly defies the cold logic that lies behind the silicon curtain of machines.Yet, the use of AI for creative endeavors is now growing.

New AI tools like DALL-E and Midjourney are increasingly part of creative production, and some have started to win awards for their creative output. The growing impact is both social and economic—as just one example, the potential of AI to generate new, creative content is a defining flashpoint behind the Hollywood writers strike.

AI creativity is growing in social and economic impact

And if our recent study into the striking originality of AI is any indication, the emergence of AI-based creativity—along with examples of both its promise and peril—is likely just beginning. Our findings are published in the Journal of Creativity.

A blend of novelty and utility .

When people are at their most creative, they're responding to a need, goal or problem by generating something new—a product or solution that didn't previously exist.

AI tools such as DALLE and Midjourney are increasingly involved in creative production

In this sense, creativity is an act of combining existing resources—ideas, materials, knowledge—in a novel way that's useful or gratifying. Quite often, the result of creative thinking is also surprising, leading to something that the creator did not—and perhaps could not—foresee.

It might involve an invention, an unexpected punchline to a joke or a groundbreaking theory in physics. It might be a unique arrangement of notes, tempo, sounds and lyrics that results in a new song.

AI-generated content is a defining flashpoint behind the Hollywood writers strike

So, as a researcher of creative thinking, I immediately noticed something interesting about the content generated by the latest versions of AI, including GPT-4.

When prompted with tasks requiring creative thinking, the novelty and usefulness of GPT-4's output reminded me of the creative types of ideas submitted by students and colleagues I had worked with as a teacher and entrepreneur.

The ideas were different and surprising, yet relevant and useful. And, when required, quite imaginative.

A recent study has found that AI-based creativity is likely just beginning

Consider the following prompt offered to GPT-4: "Suppose all children became giants for one day out of the week. What would happen?" The ideas generated by GPT-4 touched on culture, economics, psychology, politics, interpersonal communication, transportation, recreation and much more—many surprising and unique in terms of the novel connections generated.

This combination of novelty and utility is difficult to pull off, as most scientists, artists, writers, musicians, poets, chefs, founders, engineers and academics can attest.

When people are at their most creative, they are responding to a need, goal or problem by generating something new

Yet AI seemed to be doing it—and doing it well.

Putting AI to the test .

With researchers in creativity and entrepreneurship Christian Byrge and Christian Gilde, I decided to put AI's creative abilities to the test by having it take the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, or TTCT.

The TTCT prompts the test-taker to engage in the kinds of creativity required for real-life tasks: asking questions, how to be more resourceful or efficient, guessing cause and effect or imprvovising when faced with a problem.

AI has been tested by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) which prompts the test-taker to engage in the kinds of creativity required for real-life tasks

By training a deep neural network on a large amount of existing creativity test data, the AI was able to generate unique, creative answers to six of the TTCT prompts. In five of the six cases, the AI's answers were initially rated creative at a better than chance level.

What is perhaps most striking is that the AI-generated answers reached similar or slightly higher levels of creativity than those submitted by human participants.

In fact, after introducing a more creative response from humans, the AI was able to adapt and generate even more creative ideas—exactly the kind of flexibility that AI will need to show if it is to keep up with human levels of creative thinking.

This result was validated by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. The AI has reached a level of creativity that should be commensurate with human creativity.

The implications of our findings are far-reaching, and so we must consider their implications carefully. AI-generated content is likely to continue to exceed what humans can do—and should—and implications are likely to stretch far beyond the scope of creative tasks.

What remains to be seen is how these tools will—or won't—be used for the greater good. Whether through art, music, writing, product design, advertising or problem-solving, AI-generated content has the potential to provide us with solutions to previously intractable problems.

Yet it is also important to note that the potential of AI-generated content should always be weighed against the ethical implications of allowing algorithms to take an increasingly active role in how and what we think and create.

As with any potential disruption, the impact of AI's creative potential needs to be both considered and carefully managed. For that reason, we must always remain vigilant, to ensure that AI-driven creativity can be employed both responsibly and productively.

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