Pass the Mustard • by Jacob Haas

The spark of creativity

Intelligent and introspective chimpanzee

Lately, I've been thinking about creativity and the fact that from what we understand about every other animal that displays intelligence and sentience, humans are the only animals that exhibit this trait.

I think it was the sudden explosion in AI and machine learning that brought this on. What is true sentience? When did humans first begin to ponder to themselves why they were here? There are all sorts of theories, not the least favorite of mine being the "Stoned Ape" theory... bunch of missing link type hominids sitting around getting wasted on mind-altering chemicals, evolving to expand the parts of the brain involved in critical thinking, reasoning, language, recognizing oneself as an independent and unique creature, and ultimately, creativity.

AI, as it stands now in early 2023, is a fuzzy, over-compressed JPG of the collective knowledge of humanity. But I just can't see it getting to the point where it is creating something totally new and unseen. Learning to do complex and repetitive tasks online? Or writing technical articles using several sources of known information? Sure.

But what makes someone truly creative? What allows mental images to form in my brain? Chemicals and proteins and hormones and electricity, all swimming around up in my head. Technically. But we just can't know.

I suppose it wouldn't matter if we knew how or why. It's fun to think about, though. Perhaps if we did know, we could replicate the scenario digitally and develop a truly creative AI. One that dreams and thinks and ponders. Would we really want that to exist?

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