Creativity, or…

Creation, innovation, invention, and perhaps improvisation. What is the difference? These are only some of the important aspects which make us human. They are important in relation to technology.

Can a machine be creative? Being creative is part of what makes us human and humans make machines. So as our machines strive to become more human-like, could we assume they will one day be just as creative as us?

In addition to being creative, we also innovate using technologies in inventive ways to create other inventions. So, what is the difference between creation, innovation and invention? Can you define these in your own words before reading on?

Creativity, innovation and invention seem to be nearly the same and certainly related. They are all deeply part of what it means to be human. Initially, we might surmise that creativity is more closely related to the arts, but not always. Innovation may more often be used in business, sciences and technology. Most people would associate invention with science and the inventor type of person who comes up with new devices or new technologies. How do you hear these words being used? How do you use these words?

Sometimes when we make something, not necessarily a new something, we use the term create and sometimes the words innovate, or invent—“They are creating a building across the street from our house. The front has a new innovation. The material is a new invention.” Is the word create used more often than innovate and invent? Does it include all creative thinking endeavours? Creativity involves the imagination, original thinking and ideas. 

Have you noticed that creative thinking has become an attribute sought after in business? We should welcome this as a positive trend. I have seen many business articles discussing creative thinking in business and the workplace.

Creativity, innovation and invention seem to be nearly the same and certainly related. They are all deeply part of what it means to be human.

When one invents something, is that not an innovation? I see an invention as pulling together various parts or pieces to arrive at something new that has never existed before, often referring to an engineered device. An innovation then would be a modification of, or better solution to, something existing, or the use of it in a different way. It can be an idea, or more effective way of doing something. Creation, or creativity, seems to be part of the process of inventing and innovating, including the inspiration. However, I hear it being used mostly to describe a human endeavour that is artistic.  

I would like to add another word for our consideration—improvisation, or to improvise. This is a word that seems to embody much of what the other three do. Sometimes we improvise to come up with a way to do something when we don’t actually have what we need. We make do. In jazz music, and often in other artistic endeavours, we improvise to make something new out of material on hand, or components of music in the case of jazz. What do improvisation and to improvise mean to you? Can you think of times when you improvised?

All of these words, creativity, innovation, invention and improvisation are part of what it means to be human. As human activities, they must include mistakes and failures. Aren’t mistakes and failures ways we learn and find new creative ways of doing things? If you want to be more creative, step out and make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over failure, but embrace it and learn. Be child-like and play. Did you realize we can play in the Technojungle as we safari? 

The Technojungle is getting smarter and simulating more human-like attributes. The attributes discussed in this chapter should be among the most difficult for the Technojungle to emulate. We might not be able to spot the artificial creativity unless we truly understand what creativity is, and we must build up our own human creativity. The Technojungle has definitely started its attempts at creativity and is improving every day. Computers are already making music, art, and many other creative endeavours. But are they actually creating, or simply pulling together pieces from other human creations? This might be exactly what we humans do. 

The activities of creativity, innovation, invention, and improvisation might simply be borrowing and repurposing parts of previous works. This sounds like something a computer could emulate and do artificially. That is until we consider some additional related words which convey deeper context.

In continuing this short word safari, let’s add to the definition of creativity the following. We do know that humans can suddenly experience imagination, inspiration, ingenuity, insight, and intuition. We can also be influenced by something to do something else, or we may act on impulse. People often have vision to achieve something. We also have cleverness, wit, genius, perception, and are expressive. We don’t know how most of these human traits happen, but once again, nurturing these traits and abilities would certainly help to protect from artificial emulations and make us more human. We can wonder if these might just come part and parcel with intelligence. 

Here is one final trait to consider. We humans have a curiosity, or inquisitiveness, toward everything. While that means a deep desire to learn about something; to ask or inquire, who, what, where, when, and why, there is something much deeper. We wonder about and ponder things.

I suggest that being curious, wondering, and pondering are other important human tools to pack in our baggage to take on safari through the Technojungle. As you notice aspects of the Technojungle, be curious, wonder about what is behind something, ponder about how to learn more and about what you learn.

It would seem that curiosity leads us to creativity. If we want to become better at being human beings and learning to truly live in the Technojungle then we should seek to always be curious and to nurture our abilities of being creative, innovative, inventive and at improvisation? 

Creativity and curiosity are both deeply human. We can hope that our machines never become proficient at reaching into this realm of our existence, however they are trying. Our technologies and our creative abilities are intertwined. There is one technology that is at the heart of what makes this possible. It is an amazing technology.


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