Can Computers Replace Human Creativity?


There’s been a lot written about Artificial Intelligence over the last few years. As a fan of Isaac Asimov novels, I’m absolutely fascinated by this subject. Plus I’m one of the few people who actually like Spielberg’s movie “A.I.”

All those great books and movies show a time in the future when artificial intelligence not only goes mainstream, but experiences backlash from the human population. This has everything to do with jobs.

Imagine being replaced by a robot. It happened during the industrial revolution when factory workers were replaced with machines. It’s not hard to see that many jobs can be done with artificial intelligence. That includes the advertising industry. Media planners and buyers may be the first casualties.

But the title of this piece is Artificial Stupidity. That’s where I come in. I’m on the creative side of the business.

Perhaps it’s arrogance, but I don’t see how a machine can do my job. My job is stupid. And I mean that in a really good way. It’s the job of Creatives (with a capital C) to look at things in a different way. There’s no science to what we do. Data can and should influence our thinking. It helps us make intelligent strategic decisions. Yet when I face the blank page armed with a creative brief, I am not mining through scientific data. No, I’m staring out the window as my mind flips through my brain’s database of music trivia and Seinfeld quotes.

It’s hard to explain how it works. There is a discipline to the craft. But we make it up as we go along. It’s jazz. It’s improv. It’s A.D.D. Oh look, a cat! Sorry. Where was I?

Oh right. My point was until machines are programmed with Artificial Stupidity, there is a need for creative people to do creative work. Good thing scientists and mathematicians have more important things to tackle than new and improved ads.

– Rob Schnapp