Augmented creativity

Understanding the nature and value of creativity has never been more important. Nesta’s research has shown why artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are set to have significant impacts on our world, and why creativity is an important skill for humans hoping to work alongside the robots.

We’ve shown why creative roles themselves are less likely to be automated, as well as the importance of creativity across the economy. We have also tried to push creative organisations to make full use of the opportunities of technologies, encouraging research and development in the arts sector.

A lot of the headlines about the impact of AI highlight businesses who are already combining creativity and tech; they are dominated by claims of algorithms that can match the genius of Beethoven or write like George Eliot. But this threatens to eclipse the more interesting and potentially transformative way that human creativity and AI could be brought together to push boundaries. We explore in depth what this could look like in AI and Creativity, the latest episode of Nesta’s new podcast Future Curious. We will also be probing this question at today’s symposium, with some Bristolians working at the nexus of creativity and technology making the case for the tech that they work with.

"We’re at the beginning of a renaissance in the availability and capability of design tools"

Mark Davis, Autodesk

In the podcast episode, we look at one case study of how AI is transforming the creative process, speaking to Mark Davis who leads Design Research at Autodesk, the software company that has pioneered AI-powered generative design. Stating that ‘we’re at the beginning of a renaissance in the availability and capability of design tools’, he explains how new AI design tools flip the traditional solution-oriented design process. Instead designers define the constraints of the design problem, then the AI rapidly generates hundreds and thousands of possible models, which can be optimised for specific metrics and that have applications in everything from spatial design to spacecraft. Both the speed at which they are generated, and the types of design that result go far beyond what human designers typically produce.

Future Curious - AI and Creativity

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"AI is genuinely creeping into just about every area of human creative practice"

Dr Rebecca Fiebrink, Goldsmiths, University of London

Even in a wholly artistic space, AI is helping push boundaries in the creative process. Our expert interlocutor for this episode is Dr Rebecca Fiebrink, Senior Lecturer in Computing at Goldsmiths. She works with musicians and artists, creating technologies for and with them that use machine learning to intervene in and shape the creative process in unexpected ways.

Of course, quite how the impact of AI in creative fields will roll out is still to be seen. Nesta has previously highlighted a number of existing opportunities but also some of the challenges that the sector could face.

Whether you’re joining us at our symposium today, or listening in on our latest podcast episode, one thing is clear: if we are to capitalise on the opportunities presented to us when potentially game-changing technologies are emerging and developing, the arts and tech communities will need to come together and collaborate to pursue the real potential they offer.


Georgia Ward Dyer

Georgia Ward Dyer

Georgia Ward Dyer

Researcher and Programmer

Georgia was a Researcher and Programmer in the Futures and Explorations Team, which she first joined as an Intern.

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Eliza Easton

Eliza Easton

Eliza Easton

Deputy Director - Policy and Communications, Policy and Evidence Centre

Eliza worked with economists and data scientists to analyse and develop policies for the creative economy, and then with policy-makers to see them enacted.

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