Can a Robot be Creative?

Humans are special. We do amazing and incredible things that make us remarkable and unique. Expressing creativity through art is one of those things. A cheetah with a paintbrush won’t create a masterpiece comparable to something made by Renoir. It will just eat the paintbrush. Regardless of what the infinite monkey theorem tells us, a monkey cannot produce anything near the caliber of Shakespeare’s work, however many drafts you allow. And although robots may be faster, stronger, and better at processing and using large amounts of data than people, creativity will always be something that is uniquely human.


Is creativity something special reserved for human, or can a robot be creative?

NPR examined the subject of robots and creativity, in an article titled, “You Can Give a Robot A Paintbrush, But Does It Create Art“? The article looked at a robot that can paint portraits based on a photograph. Although the robot uses photographs provided by a human photographer, the portraits are painted entirely by the robot, which, according to its developer, has developed its own unique style.

This is where things get tricky. Art is supposed to be something that people do, and creativity is supposed to be part of that human process. Is this robot being creative? Is it producing art? Is the robot merely generating paintings, and neither art nor creativity are involved because robots aren’t creative and they do not make art?

Creativity is often closely associated with art. However, both terms can be a bit tricky to define given the fact that you could ask a room full of artists to define art and creativity and that room would end up strewn with torn scraps of poetry, paint splatters on the wall, and a musical number to recount the heated melee that ensued.

Is creativity something that can be automated, or is creativity something exclusive to humans? This hasn’t really been a significant question in the past, but as robotics and automation technologies advance, the question of creativity and robots could become much more interesting.