Understanding the Capabilities and Limitations of AI in Creative Domains

AI has made monumental strides in recent years, now capable of generating ideas and content in novel ways. These tools can rehash and reshape existing ideas to generate new ones or create novel ideas reminiscent of familiar ones. 

However, AI’s capacity to produce something genuinely unique is limited due to its inability to comprehend and synthesize concepts like humans. Nevertheless, AI can play a crucial role in spurring human creativity by generating fresh ideas and tweaking existing ones.


The Intersection of AI and Creativity: A Contemporary Dialogue

The astonishing developments in Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, Dall-E and others, have sparked debates about whether creativity is a uniquely human trait. 

Noteworthy milestones of Generative AI include:
  • The AI-created artwork “The Portrait of Edmond de Belamy,” sold for an unexpected $432,500 by Christie’s in 2018.
  • Successful collaborations between AI and music producers, such as Grammy-nominee Alex Da Kid and IBM’s Watson.
In these instances, humans remain in control by filtering the AI’s output according to their vision and retaining the piece’s authorship. However, AI image generator Dall-E can quickly produce unique content, blurring the lines of authorship. The algorithm, the numerous artists whose work was utilized or the prompter who detailed the style, reference, subject matter, and emotion could all arguably hold authorship.

Dissecting Creativity: The Three Forms


Margaret Boden identifies three types of creativity: Combinational, Exploratory and Transformational. 

Combinational creativity merges familiar ideas, while Exploratory creativity yields new ideas by delving into ‘structured conceptual spaces.’ The synthetic creativity exhibited by AI is comparable to these forms. However, Transformational creativity, which involves generating completely original ideas, remains a challenging feat for AI and a major topic in the discourse of AI’s potential role in copyright infringement.


The Systematic Nature of AI Creativity

AI’s creative processes are predictable and systematic, unlike the often spontaneous creativity displayed by humans. The key difference lies in the motivations. While artists are driven by self-expression and product creation, AI is driven by consumer demand. Therefore, AI art only reflects what we request, not necessarily what we need. So far, Generative AI appears to thrive best when combined with human creativity, augmenting rather than replacing it.

Implications of Synthetic Creativity for Businesses

Synthetic creativity, as currently exhibited by AI, is a significant asset to business and marketing. Potential uses include AI-enhanced advertising, AI-designed furniture and AI-assisted fashion styling. While these applications are vast, they also necessitate another form of creativity: Curation. AI may ‘hallucinate,’ or generate nonsensical output, requiring the human skill of sense-making to create a unified and compelling vision.

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By AI Ireland

AI Ireland's mission is to increase the use of AI for the benefit of our society, our competitiveness, and for everyone living in Ireland.

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