Intelligent Design

Gregory Chaitin on why human creativity is not computable

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There is a paradox involved with computers and human creativity, something like Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems or the Smallest Uninteresting Number:

Gregory Chaitin: So there is a paradoxical aspect to creativity. You could have a mathematical theory of creativity that enables you to prove theorems about creativity, but is not implemented in software. That doesn’t give you an algorithm for being creative. Because if it’s an algorithm, it’s not creative, right? But you might be able to prove theorems about creativity.

Like I can prove theorems that most numbers are random or unstructured. I can’t produce individual examples that I’m certain are. So it might be that you could prove theorems about creativity. But the theory wouldn’t give you a formula, a recipe, for being creative. Because once it does that, then it’s not creative. You see? There’s this paradox.

Robert J. Marks: Yeah. And also, those theorems that you’re talking about are kind of meta. You’re using creativity to write theorems about creativity. And one of the important things is to define creativity.

News, “Why human creativity is not computable” at Mind Matters News

Summary: Creativity is what we don’t know. Once it is reduced to a formula a computer can use, it is not creative any more, by definition.

The paradox of the smallest uninteresting number. Robert J. Marks sometimes uses the paradox of the smallest “uninteresting” number to illustrate proof by contradiction — that is, by creating paradoxes. Gregory Chaitin: You can sort of go step by step from the paradox of the smallest “uninteresting” number to a proof very similar to mine.

2 Replies to “Gregory Chaitin on why human creativity is not computable

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    I’m not sure that ‘algorithmicness’ itself is contrary to creativity. Most authors and composers have a strict repetitive workflow, which is very much like an algorithm. Creativity happens because of the strict workflow, not despite it. Without the algorithm, no creation. A human mind running an algorithm is simply NOT the same kind of machine as a digital computer running an algorithm.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    As an example, here’s an account of Poe’s logical process in writing ‘The Raven’. Highly algorithmic.

    And the poem itself fits words into logical patterns of meter and rhyme, as rigid as Fortran on a punchcard. Without the algorhythm, no poetry and no Poe.

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