The topic of artificial intelligence taking over the world has been something fiction writers have been talking about for years. But should we be worried about robots taking over our jobs? I mean, they are already capable of cleaning our floors, like the Roomba, and they can drive our cars. But those are manual tasks. What about creativity? Can that also be automated? And should actors, speakers, writers and artists be worried about losing a job to SpeakerBot 2000?
Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist from Rice University believes that day may be closer than we think. In fact, he believes that within 30 years, artificial intelligence could put half of all humans out of a job. “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task”, said Vardi. Then “what will humans do?”
And he’s not the only one who thinks that. Michael Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey, are University of Oxford researchers who have estimated that 47% of all US jobs could be taken over through automation by 2033.
It’s not all bad news though. Automation has raised productivity in the industrial sector, but the bad news is that it has also raised unemployment.
So, does that mean that robots will be able to take over all jobs? What about jobs that involve creativity? Most experts say that creatives are relatively safe from being replaced by a machine. Osborne and Frey have concluded through their research that 90% of creatives don’t have to worry about losing their jobs to robots. Other things maybe, but not robots.
That doesn’t mean robots couldn’t eventually evolve into a creative force to be reckoned with. But for now, robots lack complex problem solving, empathy, and intuition, all elements that can be used by a creative person to do their job. But, we’ve been wrong about robots before. So maybe artists shouldn’t take them for granted.
Inventor and pediatric nurse Ann Moore proved that you can make an old idea new again. It was during her time in the Peace Corps in West Africa that she first saw mothers carrying their babies around on their backs in fabric harnesses. The babies seemed very content with the emotional bonding they received, and when Ann gave birth to her daughter, she wanted the same kind of bonding with her baby.
She tried to replicate the idea by taking a piece of cloth and wrapping the baby in it. Then she added a pouch to keep the baby from slipping out. When the garment needed some sewing improvements, she recruited her mother to help her out.
Holes were cut so the baby’s legs could fit through, and a waistband was added that tied in the front to make it more secure. Soon, mothers were stopping her in the street to find out where they could get one. Moore was making several of them a month on her kitchen table and selling them on her own. She found that she sold a lot more after improving the head support.
The product was originally put in her mother’s name, but later was assigned to Moore as sales of the product skyrocketed from a few a month to a few hundred a month. Part of the reason for this was that the family was touring the country doing public speaking on topics like natural childbirth. It was because they were face to face with their target customers that really helped push Snugli over the edge.
This is a good lesson for inventors, who have to step out of the creative mode once their products are ready for market, and put on their marketing hat.
Also, Moore saw a bigger picture than just inventing a product. She envisioned a deeper bond between parent and child. This is another good lesson for inventors, who want to make a bigger impact in the world beyond just their inventions.
She eventually sold the company to Gerico, who have since expanded the product line with different models and updated styles.
Anyone who has seen my office and the piles of hand-written notes on legal pads, in the backs of books, on scraps of paper and napkins, and on various Post-it notes stuck to the wall would probably label me a bit kooky. So, I’m glad to hear that a recent study at the Princeton University psychology department has vindicated my crazy note taking. The conceptual thinking and note taking study was conducted by psychological scientist and author Pam Mueller and involved 65 college students. Some of them took notes from a TED talk in a laptop and some took notes in long-hand in a notebook with pen and paper.
They were then quizzed on what they learned through both fact recall and conceptual thinking types of questions. They both performed well when it came to the fact recall type of questions, but the ones that used good ole’ fashioned pen and paper out shined the laptop note takers when it came to conceptual questions. It seems that the pen and paper note takers were more likely to remember the conceptual information, even when questioned a week later.
Yippee! I can finally justify my system to non-believers.
Conceptual questions test your understanding of the ideas. So you’re not able to just memorize answers, but really have to engage your brain in problem solving. I’m sure this has something to do with being an innovator and a creative type that I simply can’t stop scribbling ideas and solving problems.
I can’t prove this with a university study, but I would also bet that it has something to do with the fact that you have to write it out and your brain remembers the certain way it’s written. When you type on a laptop it all looks the same.
All I know is that pen and paper note taking does work. I’m able to remember much more when it’s hand-written. And pen and paper will never crash.
A recent study on creativity showed that people who are highly creative tend to score low on tests of humility and honesty. After spending most of my life in the entertainment industry and being surrounded by creative people, I’ve run into plenty who thought highly of themselves and would score low on honesty. But I’ve also been around plenty of creative people who are also very honest and humble.
I would have to say that the ones that are still humble are less likely to make it to the A list though. Being creative and making a great living from your creativity seem to be two separate things. Unfortunately some of the most creative people never make great money at their craft and remain very humble and honest.
The study, which used the HEXACO model of personality structure, said that the people who scored low on humility and honesty were more likely to bend the rules for their own monetary gain and had a sense of entitlement. So, does this mean you have to be arrogant and dishonest in order to make a lot of money with your creativity. I hope not. And certainly the most creative people, whether they are writers, actors, artists, etc. don’t always make a lot of money.
There is another piece here besides just creativity. In today’s world you also need to be a good pitch person. And that requires a different set of skills. Most creatives are not very good at the business side. It helps to have both.
Creativity means putting yourself on display for others to judge. That means your ego will take a beating and you have to be pretty confident to keep doing it for the long haul. You have to have a thick skin to keep taking that beating over and over again. Maybe this helps to explain why creative people think highly of themselves. You have to believe in your own creativity before others will.
Okay, so kids think robots are cool. But it appears robots are now able to help kids be more creative. This is according to Latitude, an international research firm. They asked kids around the world to write and illustrate a story that answers the question “What if robots were a part of your everyday life in and out of school”?
The goal of the study was to help educators and others see the relationship between learning and play among children. It covers both high tech and low tech solutions. The study had about 350 kid innovators between the ages of 8-12.
Kids blur the line between technology and human learning, whereas adults tend to see technology as separate. But here’s what I find fascinating. Robots, in the kid’s eyes, would support and encourage them without judging them. Interesting.
So, does this mean an end to the human teacher as we know it? After all, robots can teach for hours and hours without getting tired or having to take a break. Robots don’t need a lunch hour. And, I would bet they don’t make anywhere close to a teacher’s salary. And they never call in sick.
Kids also said that the robot teachers inspired them to be more creative and to take more risks. It makes sense. After all, a big part of taking risks is the knowledge that you won’t be judged. This is a great lesson for every human teacher that wants to inspire their students to become more creative and innovative in everything they do.
Teachers can inspire creativity in their students by allowing them to play and experiment. Play is how kids learn to be creative. They learn by trial and error, curiosity, working with others, and by letting them make their own mistakes without judgement.
Come to think of it, that’s exactly how adults can be inspired to be more creative too.
Today I spoke at the Girl Scout Conference on the topic of women inventors/women innovators. The session was sponsored by the people at THQ who make the U Draw Game Tablet for the Nintento wii.
Then the Girl Scouts had a unique kind of roundtable area where the Girl Scouts could sit and talk to a woman who had excelled in some kind of career. Mine was inventor.
At first I thought there weren’t any girls that were even interested in being an inventor. But I ended up having quite a few. The first group felt that inventing was just too hard and they could never do it. So when the second group came by I tried to coax ideas out of them and convince them that anybody could be an inventor by giving examples of kid inventors that had come up with successful products, like Abbey Fleck, who invented the Makin’ Bacon rack for the microwave. She came up with the idea after running out of towels to soak up the bacon grease. She became a million by the time she was a teenager. Now, that’s what they wanted to hear. Someone their age who had actually done it.
Once I got them to start talking they couldn’t stop coming up with bigger and better ideas. The sky’s the limit with kids. They don’t have much of a filter on their imagination. Once I asked them to start coming up with problems to solve, they just kept going. And they would also come up with many different ways it could be done. Adults will tend to analyze an idea and eventually figure out ways it wouldn’t work before it’s ever had a chance.
If adults could take the filters off and dream big like kids do, they could solve more problems.
Ahh, what did kids do before XBOX and Wii? What did kids do before computer games? Well, they probably had a much stronger imagination. And imagination is important to a child’s cognitive development. Studies show that children who have imaginary friends are more likely to be more creative and better able to solve problems.
As it turns out, the things that you are able to do for free with your children are also some of the best for them, like engaging them in creativity. Here are some ways to encourage creativity in kids that doesn’t cost a lot of money:
- Make-believe – A few items from the closet, like hats, purses, and common household items can be transformed into characters with a little imagination. Get your child to come up with stories based around those characters and act them out. Kids love it when adults join them in their make-believe storytelling. This helps to strengthen their communication skills and builds confidence.
- Reading aloud – Creativity is about making associations between different kinds of ideas and creating something new from them. Reading and hearing stories stimulates their creativity by getting them to be exposed to new things. Also, reading aloud to your kids helps improve their listening skills. It can be entertaining and educational.
- Encourage independence – Allow kids to make as many independent choices as possible. Kids and adults will tend to stick with things that excite them. Let them choose the hobbies, books, games, and activities they want. Then give them the tools and encouragement they need to succeed.
- Forget about results – Studies show that children from a results-oriented culture like China tend to be less creative because they are so pressured to focus on memorizing information and passing tests. Creativity is a process of it’s own with no test at the end. Let kids experiment without deadlines or the stress of actually producing anything at all. They will learn more about creativity through the actual trial and error process.
Kids are naturally curious and open minded. Challenge them and nurture that curiosity, and allow them to make their own mistakes, while keeping them safe.
A new study shows that happy people are better able to be creative:
Article by Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) — People who are seeking creative inspiration should try to look on the bright side, the results of a new study suggest.
Canadian researchers used happy or sad video and music clips to put participants into different moods and then had them learn to classify sets of pictures with visually complex patterns.
People in a happy mood were better able to learn a rule to classify the patterns than those with sad or neutral moods, said Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario, and colleagues. Read More…
Working writers and other artists know that you have to “work” at being creative. Writer’s block isn’t an option when you are being paid to crank out scripts, novels, or articles. So you have to make creativity a habit every day.
It’s no different for entrepreneurs. Every day is a new creative challenge. How can we balance our budget? Get more customers? Create new marketing strategies?
- Stretch your brain – Facing a blank slate is daunting, but you have to start somewhere. Warming up your creative brain is similar to a runner stretching. Stretch your brain with new knowledge, new music, new input. Do something different every single day. Whether it’s driving down a new road, watching a new TV show or listening to a different point of view, try to stretch your brain as much as possible.
- Set a goal – Come up with 10 new ways to get more customers. Setting a goal forces you to focus on the task at hand. Don’t edit yourself. Just reach the goal of 10 new ideas and keep the ones that make sense.
- Keep an idea file – This should be for new products, new services, new markets and new ways of doing business. Put all of your research and notes into the files as you come up with them. You may not need it now, but keep it handy for the future. You never know when trends are going to change and you want to be ready to change with it. Be ready with new ideas.
- Get in your creative “zone” – What gets you in your creative zone? Is it a ritualistic cup of coffee or a certain kind of music? I found that writing a page of “stream of consciousness” nonsense will spur me to start writing. Do something. Anything. But just get started.
- Brainstorm with others – There’s no reason you have to create all by yourself. Brainstorm with someone else to get your creative juices flowing. Sometimes talking it out takes you on a completely different path that you hadn’t thought of. And input from someone else may give you ideas you wouldn’t have come up with yourself.
The bottom line is just to get in the habit of doing it every day. The more ideas you come up with, the better your chances of having one of them be brilliant.