Joho the Blog[liveblog] Sonja Amadae on computational creativity - Joho the Blog

[liveblog] Sonja Amadae on computational creativity

I’m at the STEAM ed Finland conference in Jyväskylä. Sonja Amadae at Swansea University (also currently at Helsinki U.) works on robotic ethics. She will argue in this talk that computers are algorithmic, that they only do what they’re programmed to do, that they don’t understand what they’re doing and they don’t feel human experience. AI is, she concludes, a tool.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

AI is like a human prosthetic that helps us walk. AI is an enhancement of human capabilities.

She will talk about about three cases.

Case 1: Generating a Rembrandt

A bank funded a project [cool site about it] to see what would happen if a computer had all of the data about Rembrandt’s portraits. They quantified the paintings: types, facial aspects including the size and distance of facial features, depth, contour, etc. They programmed the algorithm to create a portrait. The result was quite goood. People were pleased. Of course, it painted a white male. Is that creativity?

We are now recogizing the biases widespread in AI. E.g., “Biased algorithms are everywhere and one seeems to care” in MIT Tech Review by Will Knight. She also points to the time that Google mistakenly tagged black people as “gorillas.” So, we know there are limitations.

So, we fix the problem…and we end up with facial recognition systems so good that China can identify jaywalkers from surveillance cams, and then they post their images and names on large screens at the intersections.

Case 2: Forgery detection

The aim of one project was to detect forgeries. It was built on work done by Marits Michel van Dantzig in the 1950s. He looked at the brushstrokes on a painting; artists have signature brushstrokes. Each painting has on average 80,000 brushstrokes. A computer can compare a suspect painting’s brushstrokes with the legitimate brushstrokes of the artist. The result: the AI could identify forgeries 80% of the time from a single stroke.

Case 3: Computational creativity

She cites Wikipedia on Computational Creativity because she thinks it gets it roughly right:

Computational creativity (also known as artificial creativity, mechanical creativity, creative computing or creative computation) is a multidisciplinary endeavour that is located at the intersection of the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and the arts.
The goal of computational creativity is to model, simulate or replicate creativity using a computer, to achieve one of several ends:[

  • To construct a program or computer capable of human-level creativity.

  • To better understand human creativity and to formulate an algorithmic perspective on creative behavior in humans.

  • To design programs that can enhance human creativity without necessarily being creative themselves.

She also quotes John McCarthy:

‘To ascribe certain beliefs, knowledge, free will, intentions, consciousness, abilities, or wants to a machine or computer program is legitimate when such an ascription expresses the same information about the machine that it expresses about a person.’

If you google “computational art” and you’ll see many pictures created computationally. [Or here.] Is it genuine creativity? What’s going on here?

We know that AI’s products can be taken as human. A poem created by AI won a poetry contest for humans. E.g., “A home transformed by the lightning the balanced alcoves smother” But the AI doesn’t know it’s making a poem.

Can AI make art? Well, art is in the eye of the beholder, so if you think it’s art, it’s art. But philosophically, we need to recall Turing-Church Computability which states that the computation “need not be intelligible to the one calculating.” The fact that computers can create works that look creative does not mean that the machines have the awareness required for creativity.

Can the operations of the brain be simulated on a computer? The Turing-Church statement says yes. But now we have computing so advanced that it’s unpredictable, probabilistic, and is beyond human capability. But the computations need not be artistic to the one computing.

Computability has limits:

1. Information and data are not meaning or knowledge.

2. Every single moment of existence is unique in the universe. Every single moment we see a unique aspect of the world. A Turing computer can’t see the outside world. It only has what it’s internal to it.

3. Human mind has existential experience.

4. The mind can reflect on itself.

5. Scott Aaronson says that humans can exercise free will and AI cannot, based on quantum theory. [Something about quantum free states.]

6.The universe has non-computable systems. Equilibrium paths?

“Aspect seeing” means that we can make a choice about how we see what we see. And each moment of each aspect is unique in time.

In SF, the SPCA uses a robot to chase away homeless people. Robots cannot exercise compassion.

Computers compute. Humans create. Creativity is not computable.


Q: [me] Very interesting talk. What’s at stake in the question?

A: AI has had such a huge presence in our lives. There’s a power of thinking about rationality as computation. Gets best articulated in game theory. Can we conclude that this game theoretical rationality — the foundational understanding of rationality — is computable? Do human brings anything to the table? This leads to an argument for the obsolescence of the human. If we’re just computational, then we aren’t capable of any creativity. Or free will. That’s what’s ultimately at stake here.

Q: Can we create machines that are irrational, and have them bring a more human creativity?

A: There are many more types of rationality than game theory sort. E.g., we are rational in connection with one another working toward shared goals. The dichotomy between the rational and irrational is not sufficient.

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