Creativity and the Machine: How Technology Reshapes Language

  • Fabio Fossa Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Istituto DIRPOLIS


In scientific communications, journal articles, and philosophical aesthetic debates the words “art”, “creativity”, and “machine” are put together more and more frequently. Since some machines are designed to, or happens to, imitate human artistic creativity, it seems natural to use the same words to talk about human artists and machines which imitate them. However, the evolution of language in light of technology may conceal specific features of the phenomena it is supposed to describe. This makes it difficult to understand what machine creativity actually is and how it is connected to human creativity. The aim of the paper is to investigate why, and in what sense, the functioning of some machines may be described in terms of artistic creativity and what is the relation between machine creativity and its human archetype. I start (§1) by introducing some general ideas concerning how language evolves alongside new technologies and focusing on the case of machine creativity. In §2 I review how some creative machines have been presented to the public, thus showing that a linguistic habit which connects machines to artistic creativity has already formed. In §3 I survey the debate on machine aesthetics and I highlight the main traits of the issue. In §4 I submit a primary scheme of machine creativity which draws on the concept of functional autonomy. Finally (§5), I argue that machine creativity cannot be mistaken for a substitute of the human kind, despite the fact that the word is the same. Creative machines are technological mediums by which new forms of human aesthetic experience can be explored. The kind of creativity machines enjoy displays a functional nature.


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