What is Creativity Anyways?

When my family bought our first computer, my dad installed and toyed with a strange experimental program.
By Alyssa Adams
April 13, 2023
Creativity Unleashed

Twenty years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine what kind of technologies would exist in 2023.

As a kid raised on 80’s sci-fi blockbusters, I was definitely expecting flying cars, hoverboards, and nail polish that changes color with a single click. I wouldn’t have expected artificial intelligences that could do my homework, pass difficult exams, and win art awards. At least, it seemed like that kind of technology would have been a bit further away.

When my family bought our first computer, my dad installed and toyed with a strange experimental program. Apparently, if you said a bunch of sentences directly into the desktop mic, you could teach the computer to talk. At least, that's what they claimed. Of course, the success of this process depended a lot on his willingness to generate data for that primitive neural net to train on. I would never have thought that this kind of technology, the one that never successfully made anything more than a pitiful mrrrrrrrrzzzzz sound, even after hours and hours of back-and-forth training, would develop into something that could do my homework better than I could.

And it’s quite amazing how quickly these kinds of technologies have caught on. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has become a part of several people’s workflows for writing. It’s possible to feed it sentence fragments and have it suggest possible paragraphs for a coherent idea. How much easier is it to edit existing sentences than start from that dreaded blank page? The output for large language models like ChatGPT are so good that they can even pass important exams. The art models are good enough to win awards. Can’t imagine Kurt Cobain as a unicorn waltzing along the event horizon of a black hole? A video model can imagine it for you, and display it in 4k.

Of course, these are only a few tasks this technology can do. Whether we’re ready or not, models that are capable of creating content (writing, art, videos, music, code, etc) are now a prominent aspect of our technological reality–and they’re sure to stick around for the foreseeable future.

What could these technologies become? What shouldn’t they become?

This is exactly why we’ve chosen this topic for our third workshop. There are so many things to discuss regarding creative technologies. Since the workshop is five sessions long, we decided to theme each session around one important sub-topic:

  1. What is creativity anyways? Are these technologies actually creative in the sense that we understand creativity?
  2. What should future hybrid interfaces look like? What are optimal human-technology workflows that empower human creatives to achieve what’s currently impossible?
  3. How can we navigate indeterminacy? Can we leverage complexity science to understand a rapidly-changing technological landscape in our society?
  4. What are the known impacts of these technologies on individuals? What are the ethics of these technologies? In what ways could they be used to benefit humanity?
  5. Finally, how can we understand the creativity of evolution and nature to build hybrid technologies? How does embodiment change an individual’s ability to be creative?

Of course, there are many more aspects that we aren’t covering explicitly, but we hope our sessions can provide a starting point for people to have many interesting discussions. Our goal is to give space for brainstorming, free discussion, and, of course, collaboration.

Creativity Unleashed Workshop schedule

We’re very excited about this year’s workshop, particularly about our lineup of speakers and panelists! We think it is bound to result in many thought-provoking ideas and we can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

To learn more, visit the workshop’s website. The talks, panels, and Q&As will be live-streamed on YouTube. For those interested in attending, please contact Olaf Witkowski or Alyssa Adams.