Can Artificial Intelligence Surpass Human Creativity?
That distance between present and future no longer exists. What changes does this portend for the human mind?
Denial that our planet is going through a process of large-scale changes is illusory. These changes occur now at breakneck speed and without our being able to fully appreciate them with any perspective or objectivity. According to the daily news, scientific achievements are considerable, but so are the cracks and inequalities amongst us. The map that modernity and capitalism followed, from the invention of the steam engine, railroads and telephone lines, triggered a progressive, irremediable automation of human labor.
Humanity has created machines to help us to survive time since immemorial. But for an anthropologist of the future, or an outside observer or perhaps for an alien, the artifacts found in caves like those exhibited in our shopping malls tell the story of a species obsessed with the production of objects. And human labor isn’t limited to the production and consumption of objects. Human work also provides services and still other more intangible things like intellectual work, medicines, interpretations and the creation of laws. If machines are created to help us to improve these many ways of working, where will the limits be set between the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and human creativity?
It’s a complex question to which cybernetic engineers like Ray Kurzweil have responded with the notion of “The Singularity.” The Singularity occurs or will occur, at the moment AI exceeds human intelligence. Scientists like Kurzweil estimate it will happen around the year 2045, although it’s not necessary to wait until then to realize the speed at which AI is approaching.
Computer programs are today capable of producing a film, from conception to staging, and others have ventured into industrial design with astounding results. Janelle Shae has used neural networks to set up algorithms capable of naming all sorts of things, from death metal bands like “Verk” and “Chaorug,” to names for paint shades, like a pink called “blue child” and a red called “farty red.” Anther program was able to produce an “original” Rembrandt through a detailed analysis of the Renaissance painter’s style.
Automation assists in the production of objects and services with one hand. The other hand foments inequality among people living all over the planet. These are the hands that indicate our future as a species. But we don’t need to consider that AI is necessarily in competition with human capabilities. On the contrary, we’re at the dawn of a new era in which, according to philosophers like Bertrand Russell, humans will, at last, be free from wage labor. We’ll devote ourselves to that which our personalities and interests are most inclined to pursue. This seemingly optimistic scenario, still requires a lot of effort and planning such that no one is excluded from the new paradigm. In a sense, the construction of the future (though it surprises us day after day in the news or on social networks, always surpassing and disappointing our hopes) is still a human work. But thus, it’s one impossible to delegate to a machine.
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