Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Creativity and Nontruth

An interesting aspect of studying machine creativity was learning about the history of the concept of "creativity" itself. The word wasn't invented until fairly recently, and the concept behind it is quite different from how earlier cultures considered imagination and invention.  In that context, I found the following passage interesting:

"Spinoza argued that the biblical prophets, who claimed to have communicated directly with God, were in fact under the sway of the imagination and its images and signs....Although this notion comes nowhere near celebrating the powers of the individual imagination, it defensively marks out that space between faith and reason, centered on nontruth, into which modern fiction and concepts of creativity will be born, and in time strengthen into a pivot of modern culture." -- Simon During, Modern Enchantments.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Laws and Automata

We might as well have presiding over this nation a Maelzel automaton, or Babbage's Calculator, wound up by the Constitution to strike certain foregone conclusions, as to have a living representative of the people—a man whose heart, conscience and will have their legitimate place in interpreting and applying the written law to the nation's exigencies—if these feeble notions of the absolute preeminence in a civil war of every doubt or silence or uncertainty in a Constitution made for peace, are to prevail over the necessities of immediate and decisive action.
-- Rev. Henry W. Bellows, 1863, Unconditional Loyalty