Harry Potter and The Rise of Automated Creativity

“I’m Harry Potter,” Harry begin yelling. “The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!”

If we read the latest bot-ploy — predicative keyboards penning an entirely new, nonsensical chapter of Harry Potter than nonetheless imitates J.K. Rowling’s syntax down to a T — we can’t help but wonder when AI will automate even fine art majors out of a job. While Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like A Large Pile of Ash may not ever be a literary classic, it portrays the extent to which artificial intelligence can perform what we once thought only human originality could.

It’s strange to think about artistic expression in terms of AI, because automation is so often practiced as convenience. We are happy to receive the continued augmentation of comforts brought by artificial intelligence, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon our sense of self.

When did the AI perspective become an issue in the liberal arts, particularly those catering directly to the human emotion range? AI has already infiltrated pop ballads and informed filmmaking, but to explore the extent to which AI can truly develop its own sense of creativity, artists must question where their own works spring from. There is still much we don’t know about our own creative methodology.

Some writers continue novels from dreams while others research a city meticulously for years on end. Mozart showed mysterious, prodigious musical ability from earliest childhood and Bram Stoker didn’t write Dracula until he was 50. Can AI truly imitate the impromptu, emotional aspects of art, or does it have to tap — worryingly — further into the human nature?

Or perhaps the notion “AI creativity = death of human creativity” is itself a false dichotomy. Artist-technologists, at their core, grapple with using technology in innovative forms without worrying about maximizing efficiency.

For instance, Google is currently developing deep-learning algorithms for generating songs, drawings and other artworks through its in-house Magenta project. All of Magenta’s tools are open-source, and real artists are already using these tools to write their own songs. When humans band together with technology to invent, modernize and express, AI will not automate so much as amplify, thereby tapping into new forms of imaginative undertakings.