ARTificial Intelligence

By Shahin, Beiyue and Kevin

What does it mean to be creative?

  • Creativity as a definition is hard to pin down. Why is solving a math equation – the process of transforming numbers into different numbers — not considered creative, but doodling is?
  • Throughout history, even, the definition of creativity has undergone dramatic changes.


Is Laocoon and His Sons a creative work?

  • We would say yes, but his creator might say no.
    • “Art (in Greek, “techne”) was “the making of things, according to rules.” It contained no creativity, and it would have been — in the Greeks’ view — a bad state of affairs if it had.”

Contemporary Creativity

Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy breaks creativity down into three forms:

  1. Exploratory creativity – in which you operate within a set of rules to push skill and expertise (music, portraits)
  2. Combinatorial Creativity – the combination of two or more disparate things
  3. Third kind of “breaking” creativity -” those phase changes when suddenly you’re boiling water, and water becomes steam and changes state completely.”

Can AI be Creative?

Is this video a creative work?

  • Would that opinion change if you knew that AI software did the coloring?

“The machine has no intent to create anything,” said Klingemann. “You make a fire and it produces interesting shapes, but in the end the fire isn’t creative – it’s you hallucinating shapes and seeing patterns. [AI] is a glorified campfire.” BBC

With computer history constantly using human-centric metrics to assess the “intelligence” of artificial intelligence, it’s no wonder that we are beginning to think of lines to draw between human creativity and artificially intelligent creation.

    • That line seems to be drawn in the popular media around the labor and work that is done to create. So, let’s look at three different applications with various levels of human-computer cooperation.

The Human is the Artist, not the Machine

Ben Snell created a sculpture, Dio, that was designed by an artificial intelligence algorithm and then built with the shredded remains of the computer on which it was designed.

“I consider myself, not the computer, to be the artist,” he says. But he also talks enthusiastically about the agency of his algorithms, saying that “Dio began by trying to recreate from memory every sculpture it saw” and that he asked the computer “to close its eyes and dream of a new form.” He says he choose to use this figurative language because it makes these digital processes more relatable to humans. “

Artificial Intelligence as an Agent of Creativity

Obvious is a group of three young French art students who are auctioning off a painting called the Portrait of Edmond Belamy. The painting was produced using open source code from 19-year-old Robbie Barrat.

Many AI artists are upset about the sale because Obvious is using a narrative to push the sale of the art in which the algorithm is the artist, not the creator of the algorithm.


  • A common theme in AI discourse – the people who pull or use the human-created code for an algorithm are quick to attribute agency to the code itself, not the person who created the code.

From The Verge

“What might be the most interesting thing about the Belamy auction is that, with not much more than some borrowed code, an inkjet printer, and some enthusiastic press releases, a trio of students with minimal backgrounds in machine learning ended up at the center of a milestone in art history.”

Technical Aspects:

Michelangelo, the great Italian sculptor, painter, once had a penetrating insight into the dual relationship between perception and creativity. “Every block of stone has a statue inside of it, and the job of the sculptor is to discover”.

So before we study how AI makes creative visual art works, let us review how AI have perception on the real world and recognize every image based on artificial neural network.

For example, the bird image’s pixels can be viewed as the first layer of neurons in the system, and it feed forward into one layer after another layer after another layer connecting with each other to do some pattern recognition. With a lot of training examples, the computer can recognize the image as a bird. So each of the system has three layers: input, hidden and output.

Let’s represent the three layers as three variables: x, w and y. So there is a simple equation: x w = y. If we know x and w layer, we are able to get the y output, which is the process of perception.

Data scientists decide to experiment with what happens if we try solving for x value, given a known w and a known y. In other words, we have given a image of bird and you already have your neural network that you’ve trained on birds, but what is the image of the bird? Through the reverse process, AI complete the creative work.

AI as a Curator of Art

Netflix suggestion algorithm — is it creative? As many critics and scholars of art and expression do, the Netflix algorithm groups and suggests films in chunks that transcend classic genre definitions. In this way, the Netflix algorithm is helping viewers see commonalities within creative expressions that may have escaped.

  • Thus, AI can help us form creative connections between among existing pieces of art.

“Some artists working in this field say they are merely channeling the creativity of computers and algorithms, but others protest, and say that these systems are artistic tools like any other, created and used by humans.”

Case One: AI as a Tool to Take Away Boring Aspects of the Creative Process (AAATTTABAOTCP)

Automatic Tagging and Searchable Content

From The Verge

Creative software companies like Adobe are implementing tools that allow users to automatically tag their content libraries to make their assets easily searchable.

Automatically Coloring Line Art

Celsys Clip Studio is an application used in manga and anime that allows users to use AI to automatically color their line art illustrations.

First the user creates a “hint” layer to give the software a seed of intention for the rest of the coloring.

Then, the software does its work.

Allowing mundane work like basic coloring to be accomplished by an algorithm could free animators up to experiment more with different styles or unique effects.

Case Two:(collaboration, human-machine interaction):Magic Google Sketchpad

The Google Brain Team, a machine intelligence team focused on deep learning has created Magenta, a piece of technology which can generate art and music using recurrent neural networks.

For example, every time you start drawing a doodle, Sketch RNN tries to finish it and match the category you’ve selected.

Over 15 million players have contributed millions of drawings playing Quick, Draw! These doodles are a unique data set that can help developers train new neural networks, help researchers see patterns in how people around the world draw, and help artists create things we haven’t begun to think of.

Case Three: AI as Artist?

Which painting is human-created and which is AI-created?

Image taken from GumGum’s website:

The case of GumGum, a company that focuses on AI development specifically for computer vision. creating an artificially intelligent painting robot truly demonstrates the closest we can get to having a machine be as autonomously creative as possible. Piloted as a Turing test for people to determine whether a work of art was developed by a human or a machine, the GumGum team developed an AI system called a generative adversarial network (GumGum), which is a deep neural network made up of two other networks that feed off of one another (Skymind). One network is called the generator which generates the new data, while the other network is called the discriminator (part of the discriminative algorithm) which evaluates an input for authenticity (Skymind). The generating network begins to produce an image at random, in which, soon enough, the discriminator network begins to feed data into the generating network by critiquing what’s being produced (Skymind). From there, the generating network fine tunes what is being generated until he discriminator network lessens the amount of critiques it feeds, which suggests that the generating network has produced something well-bodied enough for the discriminating network to identify it as a creative work of art (Skymind). The data set that was used for the AI machine, called the CloudPainter, was a collection of art by  20th-century American abstract expressionists.

It’s hard to determine whether the creative work of the CloudPrinter is in fact creative. It can be argued that, since the data collected is from preexisting 20th-century art, what the CloudPrinter created (or other/future ‘autonomous’ AI technologies) is a creative work of remix practices. Using elements and design factors of the hundreds of works of art, the CloudPrinter was programmed to generate artwork that not only lacked a solid targeted body of work that is meant to be generated, but also created an original piece of art that was influenced by other works. Furthermore, it can be argued that the algorithms programmed to make AI perform the way the CloudPrinter performs is creative work itself. Programming can be identified as logic-based creativity. Though the AI machine itself is not an autonomous imaginative being that produces original thoughts of its own, the influenced and applied algorithms are what is creative and original.


Ethics and Closing Remarks

Many ethical considerations come into play in the discourse of creativity and artificial intelligence. The world of art is already considered as a personal and human-to-human experience in which one human creates a body of work to express an idea or emotion to another human, where from there the art work produced begins to exists in a broader cultural context. Additionally, there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the world of AI and technology, in which those that are unaware of how AI functions believe that “AI” will replace humans — taking our jobs, threatening our economic well-being. Though the threat of automation does exist, people fail to understand that AI and machines are not autonomous. They are not self-thinking humans/beings.

The different mediums in which AI can create art, whether it’s as a tool, a machine-assist, or self-serving creative producer, threatens the sanctity of what “art” and what “creativity” really is. Creativity was never once considered as anything but un-human because creativity and creativity work is the product of human interaction. Technology had yet to be imaginative to the point of stating that artificial intelligence itself was a creative entity. Already, when reviewing AI generated bodies of work, if told that the body of work is AI produced, art critics highly criticize it calling it one-dimensional, boring, and unimaginative as if it were a knock off of already existing artists (GumGum Insights). There is a real fear within the realm of art that creativity and originality can become oversaturated if the production of AI-created artwork beings to claim “creativity” when the algorithms generated for AI to create what it creates actually stems from other actual humans.

If we begin to see more and more AI-driven creative work, the false narrative of AI existing as a self-thinking machine that will take over human work/production will further escalate. Additionally, legal standpoints on the development of AI as a creative being, depending on the content that is produced, can serve as a future discourse due to the inability for there to be protection over work if the work was not created by a human. What AI generated content belongs to who? Can someone claim AI-generated art as their own? Does it belong to the programmers, developers, or engineers? Or would it belong to whomever or where ever the data came from (for instance, the hundreds of 20th-century paintings that GumGum’s CloudPrinter scanned as data)? Granted, introducing new ways for AI to be programmed to produce various forms of content can be useful, such as in the case of a tool for creation and creativity when primarily in the control of humans. Using AI in various other mediums that allow for more programmed algorithms to generate more content can also create a new and helpful discourse for computer scientists, engineers, and sociologists to analyze the impact of technology in the world of art. Regardless of the impact of AI entering the creative hemisphere of content creation, which will have positives and benefits, the underlying question still remains: is AI a creative agent? By textbook definition, no. It’s not the machine that creates creative content, but more so the programmer that generates the creative algorithms for the machine to perform in the manner that it does. The reality of the fact, however, is that the discourse involving AI and creativity will remain as a link only between the two (at first glance), essentially discrediting the original data content that the machine has absorbed. This is a cause of the general public’s/media’s representation of glamorizing AI as an autonomous being.


Tatarkiewicz, Władysław (1980). A History of Six Ideas: an Essay in Aesthetics. Translated from the Polish by Christopher Kasparek, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.