“Similarity works perfectly well for recommendation engines. But when you ask algorithms to create art without a pure measure for quality, that’s where things start to get interesting. Can an algorithm be creative if its only sense of art is what happened in the past?”
[Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithm, Hannah Fry]
Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI) by David Cope produced similar music (but not the same) from their music database by algorithms. This was a new algorithmic way to compose songs keeping the typical composer’s style. In October 1997, such algorithms compose the new song similarly to Johann Sebastian Bach. Audiences did not distinguish this music from genuine Bach music; the algorithm can compose a new (qualitatively) masterpiece of Bach without any composing skills and inborn musical talents. Nowadays, there are more sophisticated AI models to generate (I would not like to say “compose” here) songs we will like using the past famous and popular songs. Can we say these algorithms are creative?
Due to vague definitions and various preferences, it is really hard to measure the popularity (and the beauty) correctly. So, the AI models mimic the success of previous masterpieces and generate similar (this is a vague word but I would say “without infringing copyrights”) music, paintings, drawings, and even novels. Many people think that this is just mimicking of previous artworks but Pablo Picasso said: “Good artists borrow; great artists steal”. Nobody makes creative things out of nothing. All the artists are inspired by the previous masterpieces and make their artworks based on this inspiration as the AI models did. However, Marcel Duchamp, in 1917, introduced his magnum opus “Fountain”, which is the first readymade sculpture via a porcelain urinal. Can algorithms also make these kinds of creative art? If this artwork reflected the philosophy about the art of the time, can the algorithm find the current philosophy about the art from Big Data and make the creative artwork?