Nvidia software raises question as to whether creativity actually exists

Software developed by Nvidia is building unique images which asks the question of whether creativity is a real thing?

According to the New York Post, a small team of Nvidia researchers is training software to use certain features from celebrity photos to create new and unique images. And the team isn’t stopping with faces either. The software can also generate unique images of everyday items such as horses, buses, bicycles and plants.

The project is part of Nvidia’s greater ambitions of carving a greater influence in the technology world. AI is at the heart of these efforts, but it also cracks an area of AI which has baffled many; creativity.

Computational creativity is one of the pillars of artificial intelligence which very few people talk about. In fact, few people actually recognise any of them, instead thinking topics like natural language processing and machine learning are peers of AI. AI is the umbrella term which encompasses technologies such as natural language processing and machine learning, as well as computational perception and contextual awareness. Computational creativity is another.

But this is a potentially controversial area, as it is supposed to be a sanctuary when the computers take the rest of the jobs away from us. Unique thought and creating new concepts are supposed to be something human. Can a computer be creative when it doesn’t have a soul, or do we even understand what creativity actually is?

When you look at the most basic definition of creativity, we think a computer can be.

If you assume the purpose of creativity is to create something novel, then what Nvidia has achieved is genuinely creative. But, we can hear the naysayers already; this isn’t creative as it is simply merging together existing features. This is an understandable argument, but is this not what artists of today would call inspiration?

If a painter applies Monet’s techniques to their work, is that inspiration or copying? If an author enjoys The Great Gatsby and writes in a similar descriptive manner, is that inspiration or plagiarism? If a singer buts his own unique twist on a cover song, is that person nothing more than an impersonator?

Nvidia has created software which assesses the information, identifies a gap and then uses the best elements of what it has at its disposal to create something which wasn’t there to start with. Just because there is a scientific methodology behind the process does not mean it is not creative.

There will of course be people who disagree, but then you have to go back to the purpose of creativity (not the only purpose of creativity of course); the formulation of something which is unique, works and, in a business sense, addresses a gap in the market. On a theoretical basis, Nvidia has achieved this.

So what does this mean? Nothing right now, but in the long-term there could be opportunities for AI to think of new business models, or advertising campaigns, or new product ideas. Maybe we will become redundant after all…

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