Books  |    |  October 1, 2019

The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity

Book by Arthur I. Miller.
Published by MIT Press.
432 pages.

An authority on creativity introduces us to AI-powered computers that are creating art, literature, and music that may well surpass the creations of humans.

Today’s computers are composing music that sounds “more Bach than Bach,” turning photographs into paintings in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and even writing screenplays. But are computers truly creative—or are they merely tools to be used by musicians, artists, and writers? In this book, Arthur I. Miller takes us on a tour of creativity in the age of machines. 

Miller, an authority on creativity, identifies the key factors essential to the creative process, from “the need for introspection” to “the ability to discover the key problem.” He talks to people on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, encountering computers that mimic the brain and machines that have defeated champions in chess, Jeopardy!, and Go. In the central part of the book, Miller explores the riches of computer-created art, introducing us to artists and computer scientists who have, among much else, unleashed an artificial neural network to create a nightmarish, multi-eyed dog-cat; taught AI to imagine; developed a robot that paints; created algorithms for poetry; and produced the world’s first computer-composed musical, Beyond the Fence, staged by Android Lloyd Webber and friends.

But, Miller writes, in order to be truly creative, machines will need to step into the world. He probes the nature of consciousness and speaks to researchers trying to develop emotions and consciousness in computers. Miller argues that computers can already be as creative as humans—and someday will surpass us. But this is not a dystopian account; Miller celebrates the creative possibilities of artificial intelligence in art, music, and literature.

Table of Contents

Understanding Creativity

  • What Makes Us Creative?
  • Seven Hallmarks of Creativity and Two Marks of Genius
  • Margaret Boden’s Three Types of Creativity
  • Unconscious Thought: The Key Ingredient
  • The Birth of Artificial Intelligence
  • Games Computers Play

Portrait of the Computer as an Artist

  • DeepDream: How Alexander Mordvintsev Excavated the Computer’s Hidden Layers
  • Blaise Agüera y Arcas Brings Together Artists and Machine Intelligence
  • What Came after DeepDream?
  • Ian Goodfellow’s Generative Adversarial Networks: AI Learns to Imagine
  • Phillip Isola’s Pix2Pix: Filling in the Picture
  • Jun-Yan Zhu’s CycleGAN Turns Horses into Zebras
  • Ahmed Elgammal’s Creative Adversarial Networks
  • “But Is It Art?”: GANs Enter the Art Market
  • Simon Colton’s The Painting Fool
  • Hod Lipson and Patrick Tresset’s Artist Robots

Machines That Make Music: Putting the “Rhythm” into “Algorithm”

  • Project Magenta: AI Creates Its Own Music
  • From WaveNet and NSynth to Coconet: Adventures in Music Making
  • François Pachet and His Computers That Improvise and Compose Songs
  • Gil Weinberg and Mason Bretan and Their Robot Jazz Band
  • David Cope Makes Music That Is “More Bach than Bach”
  • “The Drunken Pint” and Other Folk Music Composed by Bob Sturm and Oded Ben-Tal’s AI
  • Rebecca Fiebrink Uses Movement to Generate Sound
  • Marwaread Mary Farbood Sketches Music
  • Eduardo Miranda and His Improvising Slime Mold

Once Upon a Time: Computers That Weave Magic with Words

  • The Pinocchio Effect
  • The Final Frontier: Computers with a Sense of Humor
  • AI and Poetry
  • Rafael Pérez y Pérez and the Problems of Creating Rounded Stories
  • Nick Montfort Makes Poetry with Pi
  • Allison Parrish Sends Probes into Semantic Space
  • Ross Goodwin and the First AI-Scripted Movie
  • Sarah Harmon Uses AI to Create Illuminating Metaphors
  • Tony Veale and His Metaphor-and Story-Generating Programs
  • Hannah Davis Turns Words into Music
  • Simon Colton’s Poetic Fool

Staged by Android Lloyd Webber and Friends

  • The World’s First Computer-Composed Musical: Beyond the Fence

Can Computers Be Creative?

  • A Glimpse of the Future?
  • What Goes On in the Computer’s Brain?
  • What Drives Creativity?
  • Evaluating Creativity in Computers
  • Computers with Feelings
  • The Question of Consciousness
  • Michael Graziano: Developing Conscious Computers
  • Two Dissenting Voices
  • Can We Apply the Hallmarks of Creativity to Computers?
  • The Future

About the Author

Arthur I. Miller is Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London. He is the author of Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art and other books including Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc.