Week 3 How AI is being used

How is creativity being used by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Colton’s (2020) discussion on Computation Creativity first struck chords of 1984 and other dystopian novels. AI ‘creating’ without any intervention from humankind, at the moment, is not possible, but even with human intervention, it feels a little creepy.

“Creativity— the ability to produce ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising, and valuable— is the acme of human intelligence, and necessary for human-level AGI. But it’s widely seen as mysterious. It’s not obvious how novel ideas could arise in people, never mind computers” (Boden 2016: 67).

Fig 1. My own photograph
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4b3056d200d32633ab3b6b5de88a8ee90cfcb8ce.jpg
Fig 2. Out from Deep Dream Generator (AI) 2020
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7e14423f4e8732a58147b1cb897939db84c7fd38.jpg
Fig 3. Out from Deep Dream Generator (AI) 2020

AI can perform monotonous tasks, longer, faster, and more efficiently than humans, perhaps it can also develop more creative and original paintings. Fascinate and delight us with layers of depth and empathy unseen in human ‘art’ thus far. Does it take something away from the humour of the joke if we know it’s artificial? To create stunning art, does the AI not need passion and heart, and if this is achieved, does this mean the end of the world?

Deep Dream Generator uses AI to re-imagine your photography or artwork. My droplets on a branch (Fig 1) has been re-imagined in Figure 2 and 3.

Droplets of water, replaced with tiny dog eyes? The result of basic computer-generated art is often random and unsettling. The computer has re-imagined my photograph, and the complexities of it’s thinking are as exciting and disturbing as they look.

“Sometimes, the computer generates the artwork entirely inde­pendently, by executing the program written by the artist. So Harold Cohen’s AARON produces line drawings and colored images unaided (sometimes generating colors so daringly beauti­ful that Cohen says it’s a better colorist than he is himself)” (Boden 2016: 72).

Computer-generated art can transcend the ideas of the artist, with the aid of human intervention (and a more sophisticated mechanism). We can understand ourselves better with the help of AI and be a ‘better colorist’. Does the competition of AI push us to be more advanced, more creative or is there a barrier that both AI and human will one day meet?

“AI concepts help to explain human creativity. They enable us to distinguish three types: combinational, exploratory, and transformational” (Boden 2016: 68).

My initial scepticism that AI computer-generated art can help us understand art better was wrong. AI is already helping us to understand the processes behind our very humanity. And yet, not all AI is creating inoffensive if not disturbingly weird ‘art’. This takes me back to Orwellian literature and questions the ethical and social implications of how AI is being used.

What are the “ethical guidelines that should apply to generative media: narratives or images that are created mainly or entirely by computers rather than people” (Daly 2017)? Liza Daly considers the ethical responsibilities creators of AI and bots like Microsoft’s, Tay (2017). “Twitter taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot to be a racist asshole in less than a day’ (Vincent, 2016). Ultimately Daly concludes that we “should design the antidote as well as the poison: can we detect AI-generated media as easily as we can create it? Technology is not ethically neutral, and we should remember that today’s internet tools may be tomorrow’s engines of propaganda” (Daly 2017).

To conclude, I agree with Liza Daly, we “must anticipate misuse of our tools and consider, then, whether they are worth building” (2017). Understanding the process of our creativity and humanity – is it a worthy question? Is it a question that can ever be answered, even with the help of AI? I don’t know, time will tell.

List of Figures

Figure 1. My own photograph. 2020.

Figure 2. Out from Deep Dream Generator (AI). 2020.

Figure 3. Out from Deep Dream Generator (AI). 2020.


BODEN, Margaret A. 2016. AI: Its Nature and Future. First edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

COLTON, Simon. 2020. ‘Computation Creativity Complete‘ [online lecture]. Falmouth University. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/872/pages/week-2-computational-creativity?module_item_id=44800 [accessed 5 December 2020].

DALY, Liza. 2017. ‘Ethical Imperatives in AI and Generative Art’. WorldWritable [online]. Available at: https://worldwritable.com/ethical-imperatives-in-ai-and-generative-art-b8cf51af4c5 [accessed 5 December 2020].

Deep Dream Generator. 2020. ‘Deep Dream Generator’. Deep Dream Generator [online]. Available at: https://deepdreamgenerator.com/ [accessed 5 December 2020].

GRAHAM, Thomas. 2018. ‘Art Made by AI Is Selling for Thousands – Is It Any Good?’. BBC Culture [online]. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20181210-art-made-by-ai-is-selling-for-thousands-is-it-any-good [accessed 5 December 2020].

O’LEARY, Martin. ‘Ethical Bot-Making’. 2020. mewo2.com [online]. Available at: http://mewo2.com/notes/bot-ethics/ [accessed 5 December 2020].

SHORT, Tanya X. and Tarn ADAMS. 2017. Procedural Generation in Game Design. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis, CRC Press.

VINCENT, James. 2016. ‘Twitter Taught Microsoft’s Friendly AI Chatbot to Be a Racist Asshole in Less than a Day’. The Verge [online]. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2016/3/24/11297050/tay-microsoft-chatbot-racist [accessed 5 December 2020].