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"The strange flavor of AI work is that people try to put
together long sets of rules in strict formalisms which tell
inflexible machines how to be flexible."

Douglas R. Hofstader

We are including on this site a discussion of artificial intelligence (AI). Why is this relevant to creativity? The very essence of creative mind is at the heart of this discussion. There are those in the field of AI convinced that mechanical devices can be programmed to be as creative as human beings. To unravel this debate we must discern what creative mind is, where it originates from and what motivates its expression.

Artificial Intelligence


The author of this site believes that true creativity springs from the creative spirit within each human being. Creative spirit cannot be duplicated in a mechanical device. Spirit is that illusive essence that science has yet to get a handle on. When science approaches a discussion of the spirit it comes up blank because it has not figured out how to quantify spirit. And, indeed, the very connotation of creative spirit is something without boundaries or limits, thus not quantifiable.

It is this creative spirit that allows us intuitive insight. Insight by definition is something that a machine, no matter how intelligent or complex it's program, can never experience. A machine can make determinations between many parameters, as neural networks are designed to do. But even subtle discernment is not insight. Insight is that sudden knowing that embraces all aspects of what was formerly an enigma. It happens in an instant and it is complete in its understanding. I would agree with Roger Penrose in his books The Emperor's New Mind, and Shadows of the Mind, that regardless of how complex a computer program is designed, it will never experience insight or intuition. Thus, it could never really forge the leaps and bounds of unknown potentials the human mind is allowed to explore through creative spirit.

A machine is also incapable of dreaming or experiencing imagination. Imagination is the projection of coherent possibilities onto the future. Though a computer can be designed to pull together random or disparate data within certain parameters, it cannot really be said to experience creative imagination, nor is it capable of overlaying imaginative thought through the practice of dreaming. For these reasons creative spirit stands above and beyond any mechanical device, even those of biological origin, as in molecular nanotechnology.


Following we will give a brief synopsis of the current efforts of creating viable artificially intelligent devices. The field of AI can be broken down into several categories:

  • Conventional Artificial Intelligence (neural networks)
  • Robotics/Androids
  • Molecular Nanotechnology

All of these categories can be explored in depth by doing a search in any of the popular search engines giving the criteria for each category. The following is not an in depth study of AI, as that has been done in numerous volumes and web sites. This is only a compact introduction to this subject and further exploration will depend upon the reader's interest. Suffice it to say, this is enough information to validate the assertion that creative spirit is a divine gift each human being possesses and far outweighs anything man has devised in mechanical form. For this we can appreciate our inherent potentials and learn to expand and utilize them to their fullest.

Neural Networks

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are modeled upon the brain's capacity to process thought through neuron and synaptic connectivity. In the brain neurons send electrical charges down axons to the synaptic endings, where these charges are then passed to other dendrite connections and coherent thoughts are chemically lodged. The key to making certain connections is the strength of prior connections.  Available dendrites pass along certain electrochemically charged signals. The more often these same pathways are forged in the brain, the more hard wired or concrete the thought pattern.

Neural networks also have weighted connections as a basis for final determination of data. Standard computer calculation is done with the binary system of on/off. By utilizing weighted connections a neural network can be said to learn and process information in a wider context than simple computational unidirectional programming based on simple duality.

Because of the ability to process weighted information ANNs can be trained in pattern recognition. This capacity is necessary to learning languages or other non-algorithmic or rule based systems. Conventional computers are good at rigid mathematical data processing but are weak in solving abstract non-linear data.

There are different types of ANNs. One of the more popular is the multilayer perceptron which is generally trained with the back propagation of error algorithm, learning vector quantization, or radial basis function. Some ANNs are classified as feedforward while others are recurrent (i.e., implement feedback) depending on how data is processed through the network. In layman's terms some push the weighted information forward and some depend upon repeated connectivity to process the incoming data.

The following picture is considered a feed forward type of ANN.

Artificial Neural Network

Another method of categorizing ANN types is by their method of learning (or training). Some ANNs employ supervised training while others are referred to as unsupervised or self-organizing. Supervised training is similar to a student guided by a teacher. Unsupervised algorithms essentially perform clustering of the data into similar groups based on the measured attributes or features serving as inputs to the algorithms. This is analogous to a student who learns the lesson alone. ANNs can be arrayed in software or in specialized hardware.

Neural networks are an evolution of binary computing, yet they are still primitive in their ability to process data into what could be considered true creativity.  Continual research and development in hardware and software is ongoing but may never rival the elegance of the human brain/mind propelled by creative spirit.


Robotics has been around since the 1950s. Robotics is the attempt for man to create computerized systems that can duplicate or mimic man's efforts.  Flash Gordon's partner has come a long way.  Wabot-1 was the first full-scale anthropomorphic robot built. It consisted of a limb control system, a vision system, and a conversation system. The Wabot-1 was able to communicate with a person in Japanese and to measure distances and directions to the objects using external receptors, artificial ears and eyes, and an artificial mouth. The Wabot-1 walked with his lower limbs and was able to grip and transport objects with hands that used tactile sensors.

An anthropomorphic robot called "Hadaly" was developed in 1995, to study human-robot communication. Hadaly has three subsystems: a head-eye subsystem, a voice control system for listening and speaking, and a motion control subsystem. The head-eye subsystem makes it possible to turn toward the visitor. The voice subsystem converses with the visitor in Japanese and the motion control subsystem moves the arms to point toward campus destinations. The name Hadaly is from the manmade human in the novel "L'eve Future" by French author Villiers de I'Isle-Adam which was written in the 19th century.

Honda introduced their "Human" robot in Tokyo on December 20, 1996. It stands 6 feet tall and weighs about 460 pounds. In can operate completely independently on battery power for 15 minutes. This is truly a great achievement. Their web page offers 4 quicktime movies of the robot walking, climbing steps, pushing a cart, and tightening a nut.

For a complete discussion of the subject of robotics as it exists today you can go to the site of The Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS). This society was formed in 1994 and continues to monitor and hold conferences on this exciting and unique approach to artificial intelligence.

Androids, of course, (the infamous Data of Star Trek fame) are included in this discussion. The ultimate robot would have computational and memory capacities that exceed the average intelligence. But as with Data, a machine does not have emotions. Emotions are potentially weakening to the intelligent organism, but they are also capable of experiencing subtleties that algorithmic processing cannot determine. Even the ultimate android would not contain a spiritual essence, and thus would be incapable of discerning the subtlest of creative indicators in the environment.


The field of molecular nanotechnology comes the closest to employing that illusive spirit. This approach actually utilizes biological molecular substances in many cases. According to John Walker the usefulness of nanotechnology is determined by, "...what we're talking about is making the next big jump to building systems a thousand times smaller than the ones we're making today; to go all the way to the bottom and start working with individual atoms....This is called molecular engineering, or nanotechnology. Eric Drexler defines this as control of the structure of matter at the molecular level, however achieved.

"In fact, we're already building components on the scale of biological systems. The picture below shows a neuron net from a human brain with an integrated circuit component inset at the same scale. The picture below is a synapse - the interconnection of the wiring in the human brain, with a one micrometre scale. Remember that this is just about the feature size of the wires in our integrated circuits."

The huge difference in capability between engineered and biological systems is not just the materials from which they're made, it's that the fine structure of the integrated circuit stops with what you can see: there's nothing down below. Since we're forced to fabricate our circuits from bulk material, from the top down, they must be essentially two-dimensional. Biology builds its structures from the bottom up, at the molecular level, and in three dimensions.

The other reason that nanotechnology at the biological level has the greatest possibility of employing human creative mind is that it also utilizes the microtubules.  These are discussed at length on our page The Biology of a Creative Mind.  Microtubules are the very essence of our biological being and the seat of consciousness as it is processed through the material world.  Creative spirit as a form of intelligence can be captured at this level.

For a complete discussion of nanotechnology go to the site by John Walker. He has done a very thorough job of discussing nanotechnology.

Creativity Machine

Another approach to creativity via a neural network was invented by Dr. Stephan Thaler. This may be the closest option yet that you can experience yourself on the internet to creative thought as processed programmatically using the mechanics of a neural network. To get a full understanding of his invention go to his site The site is very informative and playful.  By the time you're through you'll have a complete understanding of why Dr. Thaler feels this machine can rival human creativity.

In summation, Enchanted Mind believes that true creative mind is generated by something beyond the scope of any computer program, either algorithmic or non-linearly (fuzzy logic) based. This being, of course, the human Spirit. Creativity is not an intellectual process or even a purely artistic or emotional process. Intuitive insight cannot be described adequately, but must be experienced. It's sort of like love, you can talk all around it, but until you've experienced it, you really don't have a complete grasp of it's full breadth and depth.

Though the field of artificial intelligence is progressing by leaps and bounds, it is and will remain artificial in it's scope. Creative spirit will never be boxed or caged into a mechanical devise. It is this spirit that needs be cultivated.

© J.L. Read, 1998. All Rights Reserved.
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This site is dedicated in loving memory
to its creator, Janet L. Read
1949 — 2000


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