Inflexion Point, June 2020

Inflexion Point, June 2020

Dr. Pavan Soni 14/06/2020 4
Inflexion Point, June 2020

Welcome to Inflexion Point, the monthly sharing the interesting and informative from the spheres of innovation, creativity, and technology.

In this edition, we focus on creativity-- asking is AI can match human creativity, how Bell Labs fostered star performers, what makes some people more creative than others, effect of music on creativity, and secrets of Einstein's brain.  

3 Reasons Why AI Will Never Match Human Creativity

One of the most pressing questions of the current times is -- can machines be creative? Artificial Intelligence, which is largely based on neural networks to mimic the human brain, says sociology professor Anton Oleinik, can never match humans on creativity. He identifies three reasons for that. Firstly, while AI is adept at pattern recognition, it fails to anticipate when a pattern would change or connect patterns across unrelated domains. Secondly, neural networks would fail to distinguish between patterns which are useful and others which are not so much. Thirdly, such networks would not be able to appreciate social connections and relationships. Because of machine's inability to make creative inferences, interpret meaning, and understand social context, creativity would remain a human domain. (Source: Fast Company)

How Bell Labs Creates Star Performers

Bell Labs (now Nokia Bell Labs) has a distinguished history of contributing to humanity through technological innovations, such as transistors, laser, UNIX, and C-language. In an insightful article two university professors, Robert Kelley and Janet Caplan share their findings about how Bell Labs attracts and retains star performers, those who are significantly better than average talent. The secret doesn't lie in IQ scores. Rather, the star performers were skilled around building reliable networks both inside and outside the company before being confronted with a problem, had a sense of the big picture, and honed excellent social skills. They were close to the customers and to their bosses, whereby working on stuff that mattered. And these are learnable skills. (Source: Harvard Business Review) 

Why are Some People More Creative than Others?

Isn't this a question on top of your mind, for a long time now? In a very fascinating study, researchers from Harvard University performed fMRI scans of brains to identify connectivity between three core brain networks:  default, executive, and salience. The default network is activated during spontaneous thinking, involving daydreaming or imagining; the executive network enables control over thoughts; and the salience network acts as a switching mechanism between default and executive networks. Usually these networks do not get activated at the same time, but creative people have the ability to do so. Creativity stems from engaging brain systems that do not typically work together, and hence, a creative mind is a more connected one. (Source: Scientific American)

Does Listening to Music Stimulate Creative Thinking?

This is another puzzle occupying researchers and common people for a long time. What kind of music and under what conditions does music help shape creativity? Researchers propose that listening to "happy" music, such as classical tunes, lowers anxiety and improves mood, and engages the default mode network, which enhances divergent thinking. Listening to music can offer the kind of mild diversion that helps think about problems in a defocused manner, enabling novel associations and generation of creative insights. (Source: TIME)   

Snapshots Explore Einstein's Unusual Brain

A little known fact about Einstein is that immediately after the death of this great genius, the Princeton pathologist Thomas Harvey "smuggled" Einstein's brain out. Years of research on Einstein's brain has revealed several justifications of his genius. The brain had several unusual features. For starters, Einstein's brain was smaller than an average brain, it had an unusual number of non-neuron cells called glia which slowed down brain aging, and that missing operculum in his bran led to more connections across brain regions. The complex patterns in the prefrontal cortex of his brain explains abilities in abstract thinking and his famous thought experiments. Playing violin also had an important effect in shaping Einstein's brain. (Source: Nature)   

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  • Ruth Johnson

    Listening to music makes me more creative

  • Joshua Allen

    Excellent article

  • Chris Greenwood

    Artificial intelligence will eventually surpass us. Right now it's not ready yet.

  • Michelle Toye

    Music increases creativity !

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Dr. Pavan Soni

Innovation Expert

Dr. Pavan is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He is the founder of Inflexion Point, a strategy and innovation consulting. Apart from being an Adjunct Faculty at IIM Bangalore, Pavan has consulted with leading organizations on innovation and creativity, including 3M, Amazon, BCG, Deloitte, Flipkart, Honeywell, and Samsung, amongst others. Pavan was the only Indian to be shortlisted for the prestigious 'FT & McKinsey Bracken Bower Award for the Best Business Book of the Year 2016'. He has also been invited four times to speak at the TEDx. For his work on innovation, Pavan bagged the prestigious ‘On the Job Achiever’ Award at Lakshya in 2007 at NITIE Mumbai. Pavan works closely with CII, Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, European Business Group, FICCI, Karnataka Knowledge Commission, NHRD, and World Trade Centre, towards shaping their innovation activities. Pavan is a mentor for NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore, Founder Institute, Institute of Product Leadership, Brainstars, Budli, HackerEarth, and UpGrad, and is on advisory board for VC firm- Utilis Capital. Pavan is also a columnist at YourStory, Entrepreneur India, Inc 42, and People Matters. He is a Gold Medalist from MBM Engineering College Jodhpur, and did his PGDIE from NITIE Mumbai. Pavan finished his Doctoral Studies from IIM Bangalore in the domain of innovation management. More on his work is available at

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