Elevating Creativity Through Artificial Intelligence With Ross Goodwin

Melia Rayner blog's picture
Ross Goodwin

Ahead of leading the panel 'Human & Machine: The Next Great Creative Partnership' at Vivid Ideas, Melia Rayner spoke to artist and creative technologist Ross Goodwin on the future role of technology in the creative industries.

First off, what role does artificial intelligence play in helping drive your creative projects? Would you be exploring the same kinds of ideas if these technologies didn't exist?

RG: AI has opened new realms of possibilities in my work, but I'm honestly still not entirely sure of its exact definition. In our global technology culture, AI is often defined as what's not possible yet, and I think that when say you work on AI, you're generally making more of a statement about being on the cutting edge of language or vision technology than about the specific tools you're using.

I learned to manipulate language with code before I learned about AI.

I'm not exactly sure when that practice became considered AI -- likely when I began using artificial neural networks in my practice. Without AI, I certainly would be exploring the same ideas with more primitive tools.

Do you think the works you have created are indicative of a larger shift towards AI being used in collaboration with, rather than competition to, humans? 

RG: Yes. As AI becomes more advanced, it becomes more important that we cease to view technology as an "other", but rather as an increasingly advanced component of our own humanity. We have always collaborated with machines because the story of technology is primarily a story of augmentation rather than a story of replacement. 

What are some creative industries that might take advantage of the rapid developments in AI and what is the potential impact of this technology to their industries?

RG: All of them. The potential impact, like all technology, is helping people reach beyond their native capacities, whatever that means in each creative field.

What are the biggest evolutions of AI in the past few years that have helped your creative practice or process evolve? 

RG: Hardware advances. Without the large graphics processing units (GPUs) I use for training neural networks, the algorithms themselves would be pretty useless. Additionally, the widespread (and increasingly abundant) availability of training data on the internet helps push my practice forward.

What do you think are the biggest barriers to adopting AI in a creative capacity, and how could these be overcome?

RG: Fear. The AI we have seen in films is not the same as the AI that exists in real life, and the more we can reconcile those differences, the more we will truly benefit from this new technology. 

In films, AI often falls victim to the rules of cinema, the rules of "cool", or just the rules of a good story. In real life, AI is the product of a long series of design decisions that must be made with real users in mind. And at this point, AI remains more of a design challenge than a computational one.

What excites you most about the future of artificial intelligence and creativity?

RG: Collaborating with writing partners made of metal and electricity. But I suppose I'm already doing that.

Ross Goodwin is an artist and creative technologist. Ross is presenting at 'Human & Machine: The Next Great Creative Partnership' on Friday 2 June as part of Vivid Ideas.