Augmenting human creativity in the age of artificial intelligence
IBM’s Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer played against Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster, in 1996 and lost by a score of 4-2. The Deep Blue was then upgraded and defeated Kasparov the following year, in what was pegged as the “match of the century.” Deep Blue, thus, became the first computer system to defeat a chess world champion.
Similarly, in 2016, Google’s DeepMind developed AlphaGo, a computer Go program (Go is a traditional Chinese board game) that defeated world champion Lee Sedol. Although AlphaGo won four of the five games played, Sedol was praised for his creative approaches and moves to counter the machine. Thus, a case can be made for using intelligent technology to enhance our abilities and creativity when challenged.
It has been clear for some time now that the one skill that we need not just to survive, but thrive, is creativity. Between 2015 and 2020, creativity has jumped seven spots in LinkedIn’s ‘Top 10 Skills’ index and is the third-most sought-after skills; just behind complex problem-solving and critical thinking. When it comes to the top five soft skills companies need the most in 2019, creativity sits atop of the list, outpacing persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management.
The global creativity crisis
However, there is a worldwide creativity gap, and although 80 percent of people feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth, only 39 percent of global respondents describe themselves as being creative. What’s more, only one in four people believe that they are living up to their creative potential, and people all over the world spend only 25 percent of their time creating at work. Thus, we are witnessing a crucial moment in the history of mankind, where the average IQ levels are increasing, but the creativity levels in the population are falling.
Imagine that the world is being flooded with AI; blue-collar workers who are in the lowlands and white-collar workers in the hills will find it challenging to remain relevant. The only way workers can make it to the peak to survive is by applying creativity, new ideas, and innovation. However, when 75 percent of the global respondents say that they are under pressure to be productive rather than be creative at work, how can we expect creativity to thrive?
Developing super creativity
Pablo Picasso once famously said that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. This simply means that we all have ample creativity, to begin with, but the existing academic and corporate structures are not able to harness and nurture it to the fullest extent. This realization is even more crucial in today’s time because as we increasingly use artificial intelligence to augment human capabilities, we will enter a phase of human super creativity that allows us to do more. Technology will be able to help us with the most trivial and the most complex tasks to elevate our existing abilities and achieve better results in shorter periods. Creativity can be classified in the following manner:
Team creativity: Creativity is always collaborative, and the concept of a lone creative genius is more or less a myth.
Individual creativity: The creative skill and capability of individual people and the uniqueness they bring to their work; the ability to execute new ideas and do things differently.
Peer creativity: Most successful people in history collaborated with like-minded peers to expand their scope of skills and knowledge by challenging themselves.
Super creativity: The use of exponential technologies like AI to improve team, individual, and peer creativity.
Although Deep Blue was dismantled amidst controversies later on and newer chess software programs were developed, the needle has distinctly moved from competition to collaboration. Today, chess players use intelligent predictive technology naturally to gain an edge over others as they fuse their creativity with the analytical capability of AI. This makes them perform better than only humans or only AI, as they possess the invincible combination of human creativity and machine intelligence.
Similarly, we are now moving from an era of ‘man vs. machine’ into ‘man + machine,’ which will change the way we live and work. These developments will not only change overarching business rules, but also allow us to enhance the scope of everyday human-centric processes, like conducting interviews, preparing pitches, and giving presentations to clients. This era of ‘super creativity’ will help us enhance our skills, creativity, and capabilities using intelligent technology. Thus, creativity is the engine for innovation that can not only enable us to do new and different things but also help us do things differently.
(This article is based on the session ‘Augmenting Human Creativity in the Age of AI’ by James Taylor, Business Creativity, Innovation and Artificial Intelligence Expert, at TechHR 2019.)