Technology has elevated the creator’s domain from craft to cognition.
Professors are worried about term papers and scientific publications.
Artists fret about the utility of the brush in the human hand.
Philosophers wonder about humanity’s path forward against tech’s intrusion.
It’s a complicated discussion and some solutions may offer some insights and practical perspectives. Let’s start off with that good old term paper. Academics are in a panic at the prospects of GPT papers that, in most instances, can be crafted better than that college student who currently cobbles together information under the guise of scholarship. I guess that conventional wisdom would suggest that it falls into the category of cheating. But to deny the viability of GPT as a writing tool is a bit like denying the inevitable. Let’s remember the blasphemies of the calculator, spell check and word prompts that started our descent into the hell of illiteracy. The current trend of suppressing or revealing GPT is foolhardy. But it kinda feels good for the academic elites who are clinging to convention.
Perhaps a better test of a student’s knowledge can be revealed in the “prompt, not the paper.”
Today’s AI is, in part, a function of data input. And “garbage in, garbage out” remains true. So, maybe another testing modality is the prompts themselves. Well-crafted input is both a necessity for optimizing GPT output and a direct reflection of the prompter knowledge. Let’s say that a student is writing a paper on The Thoughts and Innovations of Albert Einstein. A simple GPT prompt will get you a simple and conventional reply. But the more interesting, well-informed, and creative prompt will result in better content. So, let’s grade GPT prompts! Here are a couple that would reflect a student’s insights into Einstein and his unique thinking.
Prompt One: Write a paragraph about Albert Einstein as he imagined himself in an elevator that was accelerating through space.
Prompt Two: How was Albert Einstein’s work inform by his love for music?
Ok, it begs the question. Why not just ask GPT. So I did and here a few anemic replies.
You can see that the prompts are generic and uninspiring. While I would argue that my suggestions deserve a better grade and may reflect a unique human advantage that supports GPT, at least for now.
We see a similar issue around art and creative development. Technology has certainly made it possible for people with less skill in a particular area to create and produce content in that area. For example, with the advent of digital music production software, someone with little musical skill can create complex compositions. Similarly, with the rise of video editing software and online platforms for sharing video content, people with little experience in film-making can create and distribute their own movies. However, it’s important to note that while technology may make it easier for people with less skill to create content, it doesn’t necessarily shift the emphasis from skill to cognition. The ability to think creatively, tell a compelling story, or convey a message is still an important aspect of content creation, regardless of the technology used.
It seems that the “craft” defined by traditional skills such as drawing, design, photography and writing are being impinged by or ever replaced with AI. So, where does humanity fit into the dynamic as we let our brushes dry out and our cameras get dusty? The critical insight is that humanity has become elevated! Our domain has shifted from “craft to cognition” where the cognitive constructs—thought and prompts—become the very tools of innovation and creativity. Elevating creativity to pure thought is empowering, transformative, and even Divine.
I think, therefore I create.
The amazing work of Linus Ekenstam is an example the camera-less, brushless, and strikingly vivid synthetic art. And while it’s these images that caught my attention, there’s something else that is equally significant. It’s the revealing title of his Substack page: Inside My Head.
Synthetic art created by LinusEkenstam.
And there we have the key and salient reality of AI in today’s human world. The process is “inside your head” and the external manifestation — the art output—is partly created by technology. Surely, it’s a battleground now. And this distinction is under significant flux. But we must recognize the spark of creativity—the power of creation—is that odd synaptic connection between finger and keyboard.
We are creators like never before. Or perhaps, we are creators like even before?
Creation, high atop the Sistine Chapel.
The “Creation of Adam” fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th century, depicts the biblical story of the creation of man as told in the Book of Genesis. The painting depicts God reaching out to touch the finger of Adam, who is lying on the ground, in order to give him life. The duality of God and man, creator and the created provides a timeless perspective. But a closer inspection reveals that God isn’t resting on a gilded chair, but directly in a human cranium in exacting brain structures! The anatomic references are striking. And, as Michelangelo was an accomplished anatomist, there’s little doubt that this “neurological design” was unintended. His subtle, yet compelling expression presents God / Thought / Mind as sublime and supreme.
Creativity is being redefined, but the spark of creativity and innovation still resides in the human CPU, our brain.
Perhaps the crafts that define some aspects of humanity are shifting, with the help of technology, to a new reference frame with the creator. The elevation of thought is the new domain that artists and thinkers need to embrace, own and partner with technology as a tool of expression.
John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.