Introducing the Robo–Raconteur Artificial Writer Or: Can a Computer Demonstrate Creativity?

Introducing the Robo–Raconteur Artificial Writer Or: Can a Computer Demonstrate Creativity?

J. T. Velikovsky (University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/IJACDT.2017070103
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This article invites readers to participate in a survey on computational creativity. It asks: (a) Can computers be creative? and (b) Can algorithmic computational creativity teach us about human creativity? The standard definition of creativity is adopted. The article is in two parts. Part One introduces a new interactive artificial–writer computer program, an Excel workbook containing six functional sub–modules, namely: 1) A Top 20 RoI Movie Pitch Combiner; 2) A Bottom 20 RoI Movie Pitch Element Combiner; 3) A Random Movie Pitcher; 4) A Movie Pitch Selector which judges, scores, and ranks generated pitches in evolutionary survival tournaments; 5) An Ironic Character Generator; and finally, 6) A Random Transmedia Story Universe Pitch Generator. Readers are invited to play–test The Robo–Raconteur and complete a short (5–minute) online survey: Was the artificial writer creative? Part Two explains the Evolutionary Systems Theory of Creativity that underpins the software.
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In The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (2004), creativity researcher Margaret Boden asks: Can computers be creative? After famously winning against humans on the game show Jeopardy! in 2011, in 2016 IBM’s artificially–intelligent supercomputer Watson edited a trailer for the horror movie Morgan (Scott, 2016) (Heathman, 2016; Smith, 2016). But was the movie trailer for Morgan judged creative (new, effective and surprising) by its audience? The movie’s box office RoI (Return on Investment) would suggest, perhaps not; the movie only returned USD 7.3 million on a budget of USD 8 million (Nash, 2018) in theatrical cinema release. The standard definition of creativity (Runco & Jaeger, 2012) is assumed herein, namely where a creative artifact or a meme – an idea, or process, or product (such as a movie) – is judged new and useful by the consensus of a field, within the relevant domain of culture.

Research Questions

This project seeks to answer two main research questions: Research Question #1 – Can humans conceive and execute a simple artificial writer computer program to produce new and useful (i.e., creative) units of bio–culture, such as: movie and transmedia story pitches? And, if so, Research Question #2 – What can designing, building, and then observing the mechanisms of such a movie and transmedia story–concept generator in action reveal about the evolutionary laws and mechanisms of creativity?

This algorithmic computational creativity artificial writer program The Robo–Raconteur is an extension of the creativity research in the 2016 doctoral dissertation Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema: A comparative study of the Top 20 Return–on–Investment (RoI) Movies and the Doxa of Screenwriting (Velikovsky, 2016a, p. 326).


Background And Literature Survey

Computer simulations of creative processes can be revealing about life and problem–solving, algorithms and evolution, or in short, about what it means to be human.

In The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (2004), creativity researcher Margaret Boden reviewed various instances of research in computer–emulated creativity, including the computer painting program AARON which has paintings hung in the Tate Art Gallery; EMI (“Emmy”) which composes music; and others that automatically solve mathematical and scientific problems in new and elegant ways (Boden, 2004, pp. 8–9).

Computational creativity research has advanced considerably since 2004, given R K Sawyer’s (2012) review of computer creativity, including artificial writers such as TALE–SPIN and MINSTREL (Sawyer, 2012, pp. 146–148). As a recent PhD project, Michael Meany created a prize–winning online interactive chat–bot comedy–duo which also interacts with its audience in real time (Meany, 2014a; 2014b). Goodwin (2016) created an artificial–intelligence program called Jetson (a.k.a. Benjamin) that wrote the screenplay for a short film, Sunspring (Goodwin, Benjamin, & Sharp, 2016), followed up by the human–computer co–written short film, It’s No Game (Benjamin 2.0, Goodwin, Sharp, & Friedman, 2017). In June 2017, the ABC Radio National program The Drawing Room featured interview guests Ross Goodwin and Dave King, asking, “As artists begin to collaborate with artificial intelligence, will it expand the understanding of what it means to be creative?” (Kirkham, 2017). This expansion is one key aim of this project.

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