There is now strong evidence that AI can help make us more innovative.
"This is an astonishing change in the landscape of human creativity, and one that likely makes execution, not raw creativity, a more distinguishing factor for future innovations."
That's long been true. More start-ups fail because they can't deliver their product (complete the design, build and ship) than because the product idea is faulty (although that is a close second). However, I agree that this points towards much more awareness of the necessity for execution which will likely come as a surprise to many people.
Very helpful review of literature. I made similar points and proposed an approach to institutionalize AI assisted creativity here Generative AI can Ideate Harder - Medium https://medium.com/@giannigiacomelli69/generative-ai-can-ideate-harder-bdd9e37a01d8
What a hopeful,affirmative analysis!I have no understanding of the mechanics of LLMs but love playing with Chatgpt to enhance my late-life learning.Thanks for adding another layer.
For the "fuzzy" front-end of innovation (i.e., imagination, exploration & creativity) generative AI tools can certainly serve as a type of "creative Muse" if skillfully applied. Linus Pauling would have agreed: "The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas and throw away the bad ones." However, I do wonder about generative AI's ability to "throw away the bad ones" where critical thinking takes precedence.
" And LLMs are very good at this, acting as connection machines between unexpected concepts. They are trained by generating relationships between tokens that may seem unrelated to humans but represent some deeper connections."
I believe AI's amazing ability that you describe here is the power to use metaphors: helping people understand new ideas by comparing and combining already understood ideas - and the fact that those ideas are gathered from not just our limited human experiences but from the totality of all human experiences currently recorded on the web. Ideas beget ideas.
RE: "However, calling it 'stolen thought pattern' is really dependent on how one defines it."
That's true. Here's how I define it. Every human upload to the internet or otherwise into an AI blackbox contains intellectual property including creating algorithms that have not yet been fully incorporated into US or international copyright law. Until policy rules on this are created, I define the IP as belonging to the author of the material. I further define use of that material for AI purposes without clear authorial approval as IP theft.
To go to your second point. While I think it is wonderful for people who have education/resources to help those who do not, I do not believe that help should come via theft of the cognitive algorithms that the educated worked hard to create. The theft creates a "middle man" between the "educated/resource rich" and "those without". The AI builder is the middle man. The middle man currently charges "those without" very little for the use of the cognitive algorithms he or she has stolen/appropriated. However, that is likely to change. And until the theft is replaced by transparent reward structures and benefits sharing, this will be a destructive process antithetical to traditional methods of building wealth through community uplift.
A prompt that works for me is to use multiple personas to generate varied perspectives. Full prompt here https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tombarrett1_aiforeducation-promptcraft-ai-activity-7094436062348906496-zPMa
My twopenny worth about "stolen" ideas.The other side of this maybe making people's underrated or forgotten ideas..in my case novels...known again.
"There is more underlying similarity in the ideas that the current generation of AIs produce than among ideas generated by a large number of humans"
Boy is there ever. I wonder how much time will pass until this is resolved, or if somehow won't ever be resolved and we'll just sort of reconfigure our notions about what creativity is.
Thanks for another interesting article.
Re: "Where previously, there were only a few people who had the ability to come up with good ideas, now there are many. This is an astonishing change in the landscape of human creativity, and one that likely makes execution, not raw creativity, a more distinguishing factor for future innovations."
Would you clarify? From what I've read in your paper, we still have the same number of people able to come up with creative ideas.
ChatGPT contains millions of people whose cognitive capacity has been stolen. If incapable people use that tool, they haven't come up with any creative ideas. The millions of people whose ideas are trapped in the AI software have been used without their consent to bolster the incapable ones. The fact that all of those people are trapped in a black box makes it impossible to judge whether any of them was creative before their cognitive patterns were scraped. So I don't understand how you're coming up with your numbers.
Interesting to read this article (as always Ethan!) while considering the work of Teresa Amabile and others in the area of creativity. If we take the Three Components of Creativity model as an example, AI qualifies on the expertise front through being trained as it is, but it is the human that provides the motivation and much of the creative thinking skills through the prompting. At least for now!
It could be argued that nothing is originally creative. Having the ability to combine domain knowledge (which AI is clearly good at doing even across quite disparate topics), and with human guidance coming up with new ideas, isn't a lot different (if at all) from a human enabling suspension of thought to combine knowledge and experience to produce new ideas.
Really liked reading your piece Ethan. Adding constraints is a great tip while generating ideas. Always work better.
John Cleese once said that we need time to switch from a cluttered mind to being creative, and that we also need time to stay in the creative mode to... well... be creative.
I can confirm that this works well for me. And usually, the first idea that pops up is never the best (or the one I like the most).
I'm also pretty bad at coming up with ideas when prompted on the spot. My creativity usually sparks when I'm alone and actively creating something.
Hence, I wonder about the way the human contests were structured. Did they prompt the participants to be immediately creative (and deliver ideas on the spot), or did they also get the time to adjust?
Relieved to know that simple prompts work fine, and that there does not seem to be a single best approach. One idea that’s been on my mind is whether a book of prompts is truly copyrightable. Is it just generic information like the phone book and hence not subject to copyright protection? Or it an original work of authorship because there is a certain amount of creativity in selecting/designing/arranging the prompts?
Very insightful read. This makes me think of a great article on craft that I read recently: https://buildinghope.substack.com/p/the-right-tool-for-the-job
The human body with all its senses is and will remain the right tool for the job. But we have to once again allow people to dive deep into craft and reward them for that. It’s a process that takes time and patience, but proper execution always does.
@Ethan - great article on AI, especially as a creative engine. Lots of potential If you're open to it, I'd love to add your newsletter to a business network of paid clients I'm bootstrapping who would be interested in your content. Shoot me a quick message, email@example.com.