We’ve all heard of the famous “To suffer is as human to breathe” (thank you for the wisdom, Dumbledore). I’d like to shape this into something I think is also true: to create is as human to breathe.


Given their neurological prowess compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, humans can be keenly receptive to stimuli. This reception is usually beneath the surface and ultimately manifests as a surge of chemical activity in the brain. But we don’t all receive a set amount of the exact same stimuli every passing moment, and this is what makes the human response to an event so enthralling and unpredictable.


A human’s natural response to most of the stimuli they’re faced with is to create something in response to it, a hefty portion of which depends on critical thinking and the ability to process information and derive patterns from it. When faced with a problem, a solution is created. Building on this base premise, different problems have different solutions. A level of physical impairment would require the construction of an entity that alleviates it, like building tools that can accomplish feats two pairs of limbs decidedly cannot. A need to connect with fellow humans for survival would require the establishment of a system for unified comprehension and methods for communication of the same. Hunger would require the creation of a source of nutrition, thirst would require the creation of a steady source of potable water, and so on. But what happens when a human brain experiences a chemical surge, or in better words, an emotion, that only the exact permutation of all the experiences the person has had until then could have produced? How does one express the highs and lows of it? How does one affirm their vision and/or share with their peers the exact thing they want to show them?


The answer lies, of course, in creative expression.


Encompassing all of its forms (painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, cinema, and theater), art is a testament to the boundless capabilities of the human spirit. It is a nod to our innate desire to create, express, and leave an indelible mark on the world we live in.


A very convincing take most intellectuals like to believe in is that the ability to create something that has never existed before is the true human purpose. “The base duty of humans is survival” seems like the obvious rebuttal to this, but every creature survives. Plants survive, bees survive; what distinguishes us from them? If all tasks required to keep the human race comfortable were automated, would the primary focus not fall on innovation?


This is the direction today’s advancements in technology in almost all domains of human existence have pointed to. From the invention of the internet to the development of smartphones and other mobile devices, technology has transformed how we live, work, and communicate. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has only accelerated this trend, with machines becoming increasingly capable of performing complex tasks that were once thought to be the exclusive domain of humans.


…But what would happen if Artificial Intelligence was found to be capable of creation?


AI has made significant inroads into the world of creativity and art in recent years. Algorithms are being used to generate new works of art, music, and literature, as well as to assist human creators in their creative processes. AIVA, an AI music composer, has produced original compositions that have been performed by orchestras around the world. DALL-E is an engine that uses GANs and transformers (and diffusion models for higher resolution) to create images from natural language descriptions. AI has also stepped into literature (backed by models using NLP, famous examples are GPT-3 and the newer GPT-4), with the novel “1 the Road” by C.J. Hopkins being partially written by an AI language model.


AI models aiming to produce creative content generally mimic the way humans kickstart a creative process. A pattern is established from known, accurate data points, and the patterns are used to derive various permutations of different “styles” and concepts. This works when you have to generate a piece of, say, literature within the bounds of known human ideas the model is also made aware of. But how well would it do if asked to generate an unknown concept, something out of the box?


This, today, is the barrier that stands between Artificial Intelligence rising and taking over creative industries on the whole. While we can concede that AI makes an excellent soundboard for bouncing ideas off of or creating mockups, it lacks what arguably constitutes the core of the human psyche: creativity on the root level.


Humans have the innate ability to detect patterns from data too, but they are also capable of coming up with abstract concepts outside of all the patterns they’ve already encountered. AI faces a problem with this; it cannot generate things outside of the templates it has made yet. Another popular issue with AI-generated content is that while AI may be able to create something fairly new and original, it lacks the emotional depth and personal experience that human creators bring to their work. An old, slightly foreshadowing quote from Paul Cézanne comes to mind:


“Any work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”


As AI continues to evolve, it is uncertain how it will shape the future of creativity. Will it remain a mere tool for human artists, assisting and amplifying their abilities? Or, in a realm yet uncharted, will AI defy expectations, shatter its limitations, and emerge as a true artist in its own right? The answer lies in the depths of time, waiting patiently to divulge the unfolding narrative of our artistic future.


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