/ art

Short musing on Creativity

I do a bit of tangential lurking at Carleton University's Science of Imagination lab[1], a lab generally dedicated to machine generation of sensical images given text input and a database, also see Cornell teaching robots to do similar things and then to apply them in robotics[2] it's pretty cool stuff. And with the new found disgrace of author Jonah Leher [3] I figured I would make some sweeping generalizations about my own thoughts on what imagination is and possibly how we can implement other kinds of imagination, more towards creativity than "visualization"[4].

Imagination, and it's cousin creativity do very much seem to be challenging to categorize, you can call a person creative, but what makes them as such seems elusive. Is it about the conception of ideas, or more geared towards a masterful execution? You could imagine[5] an artist who is technically very competent, but is only able to directly copy work as easily as you could picture an artist with a vision by no means to make that vision a reality. Which one of these is the creative persona, or are both, or neither? Even between disciplines, there are people who would argue up and down that mathematics are a creative pursuit and others that laugh at the very idea.

More to the point is that we're making great strides in building machines that execute the latter portion of creativity (the execution) while sort of flailing more on the conception process. We have computer programs that can paint and compose classical music like masters though I wonder about our own creative process. Is it really as simple as bouncing a bunch of divergent thoughts against our brain and seeing which ones stick together and "click".

I mean, I'm only asking because the blog post well is running dry these days, and if I could get a robot to do this for me that would be swell.


  1. http://scienceofimaginationlab.org/ ↩︎

  2. http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/cornell-teaching-robots-to-use-their-imaginations-when-organizing-your-stuff ↩︎

  3. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/jonah-lehrer-resigns-from-new-yorker-after-making-up-dylan-quotes-for-his-book/ ↩︎

  4. I probably more accurately mean imaging here ↩︎

  5. Look at me here, using words loosely and abusing my footnote privileges ↩︎