JEFFER: AI, the EU and the Importance of Creativity

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Artificial (or Augmented) Intelligence has been an industrial zenith. It is influencing health, agriculture, leisure and gaming, just to name a few industries. Realising this, the EU launched SPARC – an investment plan with the intention of strengthening the presence and efficiency of robotics within the Union. This private-public partnership will see the investment of €700 million from the Commission, and €2.1 billion from private entities. The benefits are obvious, with the Commission anticipating 240,000 jobs being created and a 42% increase in the share of robotics markets.

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However, the fear of professional redundancies due to technological advances is palpable. In response, the Commission has emphasised and encouraged employee up-training and re-training, especially in digital technology. In contrast to past technological advancements, AI does not mostly threaten low-skilled workers, but rather anything repetitive. This includes fields such as oncology, radiography, as well as accounting. This distinction is important because it implies that the main solution isn’t simply the endorsing of higher levels of education. Innovation has oftentimes inspired labour training. Industries which are mostly affected by technology tend to be the ones which call for most change, and also the ones which are most in vogue at the time. Think of the microprocessor and every job which is related to the computer.

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This is somewhat also true with AI. With a surge in need for digital skills and understanding big data, labour training has been influenced. However, there is a pivotal difference in this case: the role of creativity. Creativity should not be confused with the ‘arts’, although the two concepts may overlap at times. Creativity is the act of forming original and relevant solutions to open-ended problems. AI, on the other hand, depends on past data. It analyses large amounts of information to uncover patterns and then returns with the most statistically likely solutions to the issue at hand. What it cannot do yet, though, is form original ideas. At best it can formulate interpretations of past events and data.

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This has its benefits, especially when it comes to market-analyses and uncovering consumer patterns which would otherwise have remained unnoticed. AI tools have been successfully implemented in Photoshop applications, recipe compilations, and film trailer creation. It is also important to note that creativity is not as narrow as these examples suggest. The concept of cryptocurrencies, for example, could not have been established by AI; solutions to major global problems such as traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emission cannot be thought of by Artificial Intelligence. However, its power to leverage large amounts of data can still be utilised. Self-driving cars, for instance, may be a worthy solution to traffic problems, but the full system will still require extensive manpower and brainstorming.

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There is, however, a current gap in AI advancements – a gap which presents opportunities for individuals and economies. The potential for creative industries is enormous, with various cities within and outside of the EU being provided with opportunities to thrive. While incentives have been set, the ‘Culture Europe’ programme to support audio-visuals and culture across the Union does not compare to the investments made in robotics, with its budget of €1.45million. Investments in robotics include, for example, the European Innovation Council, which seeks to help entrepreneurs and innovators. Despite this, there is no holistic plan which directly aims to improve growing sectors, or which encourages creative thinking among youths. In a world where algorithm building seems to be one of the leading professions, it is important for more stress to be placed on creativity in all its forms. In addition, while there is a stark distinction between the sciences and the arts, they should both include a common background of creativity.

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The incentives for the private sector are clear, however the role of the government in fostering creativity is central. Protection through patents of creative products may incentivise their development, but the issues surrounding the dissemination of said products may largely hinder their growth. Thus, the optimal level of protection may be insufficient to incentivise private investment. Like any other public good, it is the responsibility of the policy-maker to encourage creative thinking

Written by

Lara Gregory

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JEFFER: AI, the EU and the Importance of Creativity

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