Re: ART: Creativity

Robert Schrader (
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 14:51:57 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 27 Feb 1997, Natasha V. More(f/k/a/Nancie Clark) wrote:

> Creativity is often looked upon as a mysterious magical quality of artists.
> Yet, the word creativity covers a wide range of skills. For example, Do Bono
> writes:
> "A few people, a very few people, now know that there is an absolute
> mathematical necessity for human creativity because of the way human
> perception works as a self-organiziang information system. Such systems
> demand creativity and also provocation."

I'd quibble over words here, though I basically agree. Learning neural
nets demand _feedback_. Creativity is an artifact, not a neccesity.

> and, more:
> "... These systems are patterning systems. They make and use patterns.
> >From an analysis of the behavior and potential behavior in such system we
> can get a very clear idea of the nature of creativity. All at once the
> mystique of creativity falls away. We can see how creativity works. We can
> also see how we might devise techniques to increase the possibility of new
> ideas. In a sense we come to look at the "logic" of creativity. ... No leap
> of faith or mystical acceptance is required. There is no mysterious black
> box labeled, 'in here it all happens.'"
> Learning how to be creative requires an ability to train thought patterns to
> take new routes. {snip}

That's part of it. Letting one's train of thought jump the tracks is merely
daydreaming or smoking dope. Anyone can do that. The essential part of
creativity is doing something with that meandering thought; getting it to
alight on another - perhaps new - track.

The extreme of letting one's thoughts take new routes is insanity. ( Many
notable artists and musicians are known to strayed over the edge. ) The
trick is to let the thoughts loose, but not too loose.

I digress for a moment...

Chris Langton did a paper on cellular automata, in which he describes
the measurement of information flow in a CA, which he measured with what
he called the Lambda parameter. When Lambda was zero or close to it,
the CAs were static. At a higher level - about .2 - the CAs were periodic.
Anything over about .3 resulted in chaos. But just on the edge between
the two, at about .270, there was a region of complexity that was stable
but not periodic. ( J.H.Conway's Life was .273 )

...end of digression.

Both human thought and CAs seem to have regions of periodicity and excess
activity with a 'sweet spot' somewhere between.

I suggest that human creativity might be describable in a similar space
and measurable by a similar parameter. Any thoughts on this?

Robert Schrader