Keynote at KICSS 2012

I gave the keynote talk on “Computers and Creativity: Past, Present and Future” at the Knowledge, Information and Creativity Support Systems (KICSS) 2012 conference in Melbourne on the 8th November.

Here’s the abstract for my talk.

Creativity is a much used and abused term, prized by many but understood by a relative few. It remains a curious situation that, despite a substantial research effort, no computer software exists that is independently creative by any human standard. Yet various forms of automated creativity are increasingly found in electronic and software-based products. Current attempts at automating creativity are problematic, because they facilitate only constrained, homogenised results that curtail rather than actively engage the human imagination.

But the computer can have many positive contributions to expanding and diversifying human creativity, particularly in the role of a creative partner. Using the concept of a “creative system” – a configuration of carefully connected components with feedback – computers can assist creative humans in discovering novelty, surprise and value. This methodology opens up many new possibilities for the design of creative software and our interaction with it. In this presentation I will show a number of examples of how models adapted from biological evolution and ecosystems can be productively used for creative discovery in artistic contexts.

Creativity and innovation are essential for contemporary society to flourish and prosper in the 21st century. To effectively address this proposition, there needs to be a fundamental change in computing education, so that software engineers actually appreciate not only what creativity is, but what its like to work creatively as an artist, designer or musician. Hence, we advocate an approach where we build on synergistic relationships between people, machines and society to expand our creativity rather than try and automate it.