Computers won’t have to be creative

Every discussion about creative AI sooner or later invites the same objection: “computers will never be able to be creative.”

It’s interesting to think about. One has to define creativity. One has to understand the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Then you have to carefully construct an opinion, and prediction, on whether we’ll ever get to the point of computers being creative – without human involvement.

The problem is, you can think about it for weeks, but at its root it may be as philosophical a question to answer as “does free will truly exist?”

So whenever someone raises that objection I wave it away, because it’s not important whether computers can be creative.

Everyone will agree that human beings have the ability to be creative. We have our imagination. We use it to create: outside us, but also inside our heads. Our perception of the world is creative. It’s why some paintings are enjoyable to us. It’s why children can play with inanimate objects and imagine vast worlds in front of them.

That’s why I believe, no matter what happens, that computers are going to be making great music that can compete with human-created music. Imagine a type of computer-generated Soundcloud, where everything that’s not listened is instantly weeded out. Algorithms will be able to determine what sucks and what will never work, so 90% of the output can be filtered beforehand, or doesn’t even have to be generated.

But for you, as a listener, it’s actually not important whether a computer made the music or a human being… especially when you won’t be able to hear the difference.

Sure, putting on an album by your favourite singer is hard to replace… but there are also moments where you tune into a playlist for sports, for focus, or whatever. Five or ten years from now, can you be 100% sure that all the songs you hear in that playlist are made by humans? Will you think: “Oh, this song is an AI song, because it doesn’t sound creative”?

Of course not.

It’s not important whether AI can be creative, when the recipient is creative.