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You Have Been Replaced by AI: Jaan Aru – “Creativity in the age of artificial intelligence”

Jaan Aru is an associate professor at the University of Tartu studying creativity, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and the effect of technology on the human mind. He has published over 40 international scientific articles and two national bestsellers about the brain and creativity. He has given more than two hundred popular scientific talks to companies, schools, government organisations, and the general public.

In his presentation “Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”, Mr Aru focused on creativity and the effects AI might have on it. The three big questions the presenter was trying to give an answer for were: how similar AI systems to humans are; what the effect of this tool on us is; what can be done to make use of these tools.  

To begin, the speaker introduced the concept of creativity. He argued that creativity is not only present in people who are well versed in art or music but is present in every individual who is trying to combine different ideas towards a new goal. Therefore, creativity is present in business, science and every field where there’s someone with an inner drive towards creating something.

Onwards with creativity and AI - are AI systems creative? The presenter gave an example of a prompt given to an image-generating AI system and showed the output. AI can, indeed, combine the ideas and pieces of info given to it and build something from it. The question, however, is how similar or different is this kind of creativity to humans. The product, or output, seems similar indeed, Mr Aru clarifies, however, there is still the question of the process, of what is happening inside before the output is given. The answer to this point seems to be that while the product may seem similar, it’s the internal struggle of creation that makes the fruits of human creativity different. Therefore, as AI systems have no inner drive or wish to do something, they create once a prompt is provided; humans, however, have much going on inside even without a certain task to solve.

To better explain the concept, the speaker brought about the ideas of internal and external creativity. External meaning that one combines different ideas and parts of their knowledge to create something. However, all creative people use these so-called building blocks for creating because there is this inner wish to do something. And this wish, this drive to create is the key difference since it’s the internal component that AI does not possess. Derived from this, creative people would use AI as an external tool to amplify and realise their ideas. However, there is an issue that might arise from utilising this solution; not everyone would boost their creativity, some would also lose it. The ones to lose are these people who get a task to fulfil and then directly use ChatGPT or some other AI system to produce it, without personally working on the task. In this case, the speaker explains, the internal creativity comes from the task-giver and the external creativity from AI, leaving the person in between with nothing, since they do not utilise their own creativity.

Hence, to start closing the topic, the speaker clarified that the people who successfully use AI tools are the people who have learned to use their inner creativity. Because people, who have not put in the hard work to develop their goals and inner motivation to create, will most probably turn towards AI tools (like ChatGPT) in order to avoid this great mental effort. Hence, we, together with our education system, need to work towards learning to use AI tools to support human creativity and not letting the usage of these tools suffocate an integral part of us that makes us different from these systems. Therefore, like Mr Aru responded to one of the questions, let us ask questions, let us learn how to prompt and not just directly copy paste the result the AI provides to the task.

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