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Robot Art Raises Questions About Human Creativity

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A collage by The Painting Fool inspired by news from Afghanistan.

Several different projects are investigating the creation of art by machines.

Credit: The Painting Fool

Art created by machines raises unanswered questions about its potential and whether it can truly be defined as creative or imaginative, and one example of this technology is The Painting Fool computer program.

Its creator, Goldsmiths College professor Simon Colton, suggests programs must pass something different from the Turing test to be designated creative, by exhibiting behavior that expresses skill, appreciation, and imagination. The Painting Fool can execute pictures of subjects in different moods, responding to emotional newspaper articles and reflecting the cumulative mood it tallies up.

Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence systems developed by Google's Brain AI researchers employ a neural net to take abstract images and modify them so they manifest a resemblance to objects the software has been trained to recognize.

Another development is University of California, San Diego professor Harold Cohen's collaboration with his autonomous painting program, AARON. AARON operates by Cohen's principle that "making art [does not] have to require ongoing, minute-by-minute decision-making...that it should be possible to devise a set of rules and then, almost without thinking, make the painting by following the rule." Cohen thinks AARON exercises creativity, as "with no further input from me, it can generate unlimited numbers of images, it's a much better colorist than I ever was myself, and it typically does it all while I'm tucked up in bed."

From Technology Review
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