Are computers shaping our creativity?

New book, Computers and Creativity by Associate Professor Jon McCormack and Professor Mark d'Inverno.

New book, Computers and Creativity by Associate Professor Jon McCormack and Professor Mark d'Inverno.

According to a new book that combines science and art, computers are changing the way we create things.

Edited by Associate Professor Jon McCormack from Monash University’s Caulfield School of Information Technology and his colleague Professor Mark d’Inverno from the University of London, the book presents new ways in which people from artistic and technical domains can collaborate to better understand and enhance creativity.

“There is something in the book for artists, designers, musicians, computer scientists, philosophers and cognitive scientists - even readers generally interested in questions about the role of computers in enriching the creative process,” Associate Professor McCormack said.

Writing on new fields in computing not adequately covered by existing texts, Professor McCormack said the book discusses areas that could be on the cusp of computing innovations, which will affect the creative process and society profoundly in coming years.

“The book considers creativity from sources other than the individual human, such as social systems, evolution, and computation,” Associate Professor McCormack said.

“It then involves artists who work with computers every day, along with experts in artificial intelligence, cognition and philosophy in an attempt to bridge the ‘two cultures’ to deliver a text that looks at understanding creativity from both artistic and scientific perspectives.”

New developments in artificial intelligence are presented that challenge our preconceptions about creativity being the exclusive to humans. For example, research that aims to develop an independent artificial artist, or machine musicians that can improvise with humans at virtuoso level.

The book also questions the way computing is currently taught and the idea that it needs to come exclusively from mathematical, engineering and scientific disciplines.

“Computing is not seen as a creative subject by the public or even at schools and universities in many countries around the world,” Associate Professor McCormack said.

“We need to change the perception of computing, especially in early learning, so that programming is seen as an engaging creative subject in the same way as science, music and the arts.”

Aware of a whole new world emerging from technology, Associate Professor McCormack wants to both change perceptions around computers and enhance our experience of interacting with them.

“Much of the technology at the moment homogenises and limits human creativity. This is a huge oversight because, when used and programmed in the right way, computers can actually allow us to be much more creative,” Associate Professor McCormack said.

“There is a big opportunity here to design new kinds of technology where the computer is a real creative partner and is able to enhance our existing creative practices significantly.”

More details about Computers and Creativity are available online.