Technology plays a significant role in helping firms unleash creative innovation. Artificial intelligence is a perfect example. But AI can also help humans be more creative and therefore represents a great opportunity for enterprises to scale more creativity throughout their organization.
AI Is Maturing Fast And Is Getting Better At Increasing Human Creativity
In 2014, I explored the potential new creative business capabilities that developers can build by leveraging AI technology. Since then, AI has matured considerably and its adoption has increased tremendously. With the advent of AI 2.0, even more cool AI technologies — based on unsupervised deep learning, reinforcement learning, generative adversarial networks (GANs), and huge free domain-specific open source data pools, to mention some — will move out from research labs and become more widely available.
But is AI becoming itself creative? I’ll answer that below, so read on. Whilst AI will spur the development of even more new creative business applications, it will also help humans to find more time for being creative in their daily work. But AI also some own creative capabilities to offer. In Augment Human Ingenuity With AI To Scale Creativity, I uncovered many examples of how mature organizations use AI to push creativity and to help scale it throughout the organization, with huge benefits for their customers and employees.
How AI Augments Creativity
AI as a technology, tool, and approach can empower unconventional thinking, drive a cooperative mindset and team collaboration, and elevate experimentation. We found that AI:
- Stimulates out-of-the-box thinking. With AI, you are offered unprecedented insights that give you more ammunition for critical decisions and discussions. Also, when working with smart and creative AI systems, you’ll inherit some of that unexploited creativity. For example, this is what happened to Go world champion Lee Sedol when playing against AlphaGo.
- Augments team collaboration. It’s a behavior that companies experience naturally while building AI-infused solutions for their organization. The approach forces them to collaborate more, across a multitude of roles, teams, and even beyond the internal organization.
- Gives employees more creative time. This is the most obvious one: Allow your employees’ repetitive, boring, and perhaps even more dangerous tasks to be dealt with by AI bots or robots, and suddenly employees and managers will have more time to think creatively.
- Acts as a catalyst to develop more creative processes. Creativity is not about finding killer applications or stellar innovations. But getting normal, day-by-day tasks done in a different and more creative way yields great outcomes. I’ve seen this in the software testing world, where testing bots are enhancing the processes and practices of mobile and web application testing teams.
- Creates opportunities for new business models and services. AI-infused drones that can understand what they see, sophisticated prediction models that can help people avoid getting hurt in natural disasters, and, in some cases, even important inventions (OK, yes, creativity can do that) can form the basis for new services and business models.
Three Things You Can Do Now
Everybody can be creative, but as tech executives, it is your responsibility to fully unleash creativity and scale it across your organization. Here is where you can start:
- Democratize AI to augment your employees’ creativity. Encourage more, widespread use of AI-based tools that offer new capabilities to the workforce.
- Add machine creativity to your teams. Couple your human creativity in teams, with AI for both augmenting humans’ creativity problem-solving skills through AI tools and technologies but also adding creative AI bots or AI-infused digital twins.
- Stop measuring efficiency — focus on effectiveness instead. Effectiveness is an outcome-based metric that shifts the focus from internal efficiencies (i.e., cost reduction) over to the business impact that technology can help create (i.e., better customer experience or revenue growth). Such a shift in the reward mechanisms will help you drive and infuse more creativity in your organization.
Can Humans Build Creative AI?
During this research, I also explored the idea — and ultimately changed my mind on it — that AI can be creative by itself, that AI is increasing its own creativity. Why? Because AI systems are submitting and getting their patents approved, GANs are doing amazing things with face recognition and synthetic data creation, and AI is creatively debunking often 50-year-old challenges. AI is finally becoming creative — not as creative as humans or creative in the same way. In my recent report, you will find out how others are leveraging creativity and what best practices you should explore. But you will also get a deep dive into what to expect in the near future as AI gets more creative itself.
So stay tuned, since I will be writing, together with my colleague Brandon Purcell, more research in 2022 on why and how AI is increasing its creativity and how enterprises can leverage it. If you want to contribute to this research with examples, or if you want to challenge our thinking, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.