Is AI Creativity Really Possible?

The question of whether AI can truly exhibit creativity is a topic of ongoing debate and exploration within the field of artificial intelligence. While AI systems have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in areas such as language processing, image recognition, and game-playing, the concept of creativity remains complex and multifaceted.

To answer this question, let’s consider what creativity is. Margaret Boden said there are three types of creativity: combinational, exploratory, and transformational.

AI’s already dabbling in the first two.

  • It can mix ideas together.
  • It can explore ideas within the boundaries of existing styles. That’s kinda like ‘synthetic creativity’ if you will.
  • But the third type, making something totally new that blows all the old rules away, that’s where things get dicey. We don’t know yet if AI can do that.

That said, AI’s turning out to be a fantastic sidekick for humans. It’s like this spark that can ignite our own creativity. And despite all the hype, it’s not about to replace us (yet). Remember how everyone thought cameras would put painters out of work?

We still need humans to make sense of what AI churns out. It can sometimes spit out nonsense, and it’s up to us to decide what works and what doesn’t.

What AI is (and isn’t) good at

Marketing agency Codeword launched an internship program featuring two AI interns. Kyle Monson, founding partner, wrote about their experience in Fastcompany. One specific question they wanted to answer with this experiment was “What is AI, and isn’t, good at?”.

Here’s what he had to say:

For example, in the past few weeks, I’ve asked AI tools for help creating a launch checklist for a campaign, sample elements for a new client landing page, revise a team note with a punchier tone, and naming options for a new product.

Did I need help with any of that stuff? Nah, I’ve done all those things on my own 100 times. What generative AI gave me was a quick gut check, filled in a missing piece or two, and then I moved on with my day. Even a few minutes saved here and there can make a difference for me.

That seems like the highest, best use for these tools, at least for the foreseeable future, which is why I don’t think we need to be scared about AI replacing creative jobs or creative teams. Because here’s the thing: Marketing and branding are about standing out and differentiating. Creativity. New ideas that have never been done before. AI isn’t good at that. It can remix and rehash and find the baseline, most formulaic solution to a problem.

AI can be a valuable tool in augmenting and enhancing human creativity by offering new perspectives, generating ideas, and supporting creative processes.

Bottom line: In general terms, at its current stage artificial intelligence is a tool; not a replacement. Generative AI tools are good at impressing humans, but humans need to be in the loop because these tools won’t replace our humanity.