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Creativity Refined: Bypassing the Gatekeepers of Appropriateness and Value

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Abstract

This chapter introduces a new definition of creativity that is independent of notions of value or appropriateness. These notions, we argue, have encumbered previous definitions and confused the production of software-based creativity. Our definition defines the creativity of a generative procedure by reference to its ability to create artefacts that are improbable with respect to those generated using previous methods. We discuss the implications of our new definition, in particular by exploring its application to human endeavour and to biological processes including evolution. The chapter also outlines some objections to our definition that we believe may arise, and we put our rebuttals to these. Finally, we summarise the practical implementation of our definition in the context of image generation software. We explore its use to improve a computational process for generating creative images, and find when we survey the software’s users that it successfully meets human perceptions of creativity.

Keywords

  • Music Composition
  • Creativity Technique
  • Brute Force Search
  • Interactive Genetic Algorithm
  • Stochastic Procedure

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Fig. 13.1
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Fig. 13.4

Notes

  1. 1.

    In dealing with the philosophy of semantics, Hilary Putnam argued that semantics are not entirely internal (in the head) but had external content via a causal theory of reference (“semantic externalism”), leading to a negative response to such questions (Putnam 1979). This has been applied, for example by Stevan Harnard, to argue that random collections of inscriptions which happen to be identical to other inscriptions that have meaning in the normal (causal) way do not share that meaning; they have no meaning (Harnad 1990).

  2. 2.

    Note that “objective” here is simply meant to contrast with psychological; we are making no grand claims about the objectivity of creativity.

  3. 3.

    Racter generates text that seems, at least superficially, to mimic schizophasia. This confused language, or word salad is created by the mentally ill with defective linguistic faculties. A short word salad may appear semantically novel. However, further sentences exhaust the possibilities for novelty since they fall within the expected range of incoherent pattern construction.

  4. 4.

    The idea of generating ideas combinatorically can be traced at least to the zairja, a mechanical device employed by Arabic astrologers in the late Middle Ages. This was probably the inspiration for Ramon Llull’s 13th century machine, Ars Magna, which consisted of concentric disks of gradually reduced diameter, upon which were transcribed symbols and words. These were brought into different combinations as the disks were rotated so that aligned symbols could be read off and interpreted as new ideas. A few centuries later, the theologian, mathematician and music theorist, Marin Mersenne discussed the idea of applying combinatorics to music composition in his work, L’harmonie universelle (1636).

  5. 5.

    We should also note that omission of the concept of value from our definition does not imply that value has no role in its application. Cultural and other values certainly enter into the choice of domain and the selection of frameworks for them. We are not aiming at some kind of value-free science of creativity, but simply a value-free account of creativity itself.

  6. 6.

    Actually, it may well be that this was actually a highly likely outcome given the conditions on earth at the time (Joyce 1989). Life on earth is the only known instance, which, however, is very different from having a low probability.

  7. 7.

    The question as to whether or not replaying the tape would reliably give rise to the emergence of the major transitions is open. However, it is clear that the likelihood of these transitions appearing without the presence of evolution is vanishingly small.

  8. 8.

    In this sense too, the birth of a new human, even one who is unable to introduce new frameworks, is a creative event. Actually, it has been argued that humans, like bowerbirds, produce artistic works as an evolutionarily adaptive way to attract mates (Miller 2001). This theory is one of several, however, and is not universally accepted (Carroll 2007).

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by Australian Research Council Discovery Grants DP0772667 and DP1094064.

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Correspondence to Alan Dorin .

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Dorin, A., Korb, K.B. (2012). Creativity Refined: Bypassing the Gatekeepers of Appropriateness and Value. In: McCormack, J., d’Inverno, M. (eds) Computers and Creativity. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-31727-9_13

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