[Humanist] 29.170 machines: reading, thinking, creating

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jul 16 22:11:57 CEST 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 170.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (13)
        Subject: computational creativity

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (25)
        Subject: Re:  29.166 machines: reading, thinking, creating


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:42:42 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: computational creativity


Forgive an ignorant question or two: how much do the early efforts of 
the artists, engineers and artist-engineers (ca. the 1950s through the 
70s) figure into the conversation these days about computational 
creativity? Does any of this get beyond the structure of the Turing Test 
as originally conceived? That is, who is considering not a painting 
(noun) but painting (gerund)? Are we stuck at the level of trompe-l'Å“il? 
Where are the artists in the discussion? The musicians?

Yours,
WM
-- 
Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:50:16 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  29.166 machines: reading, thinking, creating
        In-Reply-To: <20150715202811.387313031 at digitalhumanities.org>


It seems to me that much of this discussion is being misdirected by a
confusion of categories, or at least a failure to define terms before using
them.

If we define a creative work as a consciously intentional product by a
person executing a work that is the product of the person's skill and
imagination, then no machine at present is capable of creativity.

If we define a creative work as a humanly interpretable product understood
without reference to authorial intent, then machines are certainly capable
of producing creative works, but we sill wouldn't ascribe creativity to the
machine. The point is to ignore authorial intent in this case.

The Turing Test is a particularly fascist way of defining life or
intelligence. I was served by a hostess at a Chili's restaurant two days
ago who was so massively stupid she would not have passed the Turing Test
had she been on the other side of a screen. Many people wouldn't. But that
doesn't mean that they don't qualify as intelligent life.

Or perhaps my standards are too low.

I think Tim's NYT article is a bit too mystified with the digital. The
algorithms described aren't doing anything that human beings can't do by
hand. In this case, the machine just speeds up work that people did by hand
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the data produced by that
work is essentially the same -- and subject to the same need for
interpretation and to the same limitations (identifying a part of speech is
an act of interpretation, not a matter of passive data collection). There's
nothing "inhuman" going on here other than the speed of the process.

Jim R





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