Artificial Intelligence and the connection of unrelated patterns

08/07/2020 16

In a recent article by Josean Izarra for El Mundo, the author provided examples of creativity applied to the health sector with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The case of the company Sherpa.ai was mentioned, which in just three weeks was able to design for the Basque Health Service (Osakidetza) an application that allows anticipating the evolution of Covid-19 in the Basque Country.

This solution is capable of specifying the information by territorial demarcations to anticipate the number of beds needed. Looking to the future, the platform opens up new possibilities in calculating the evolution of new infections or the emergence of new outbreaks.

This challenge, which was accomplished in record time, requires combining human creativity with Artificial Intelligence that will become increasingly important in the future. We can ask ourselves why this combination is so powerful. The answer is clear; the capabilities of humans and Artificial Intelligence machines are complementary.

Alex Beard published an article in 2018 for The Guardian explaining the reasons why intelligent robots are still unable to compete with humans in the field of creativity. According to various studies, since we came into the world we have been endowed with a unique sensitivity to explore the environment. We carry something unique in our DNA that makes us explorers prepared for scientific research.

We are curious by nature and we want to discover all the secrets of the universe. On the other hand, in another article by Katherine Schwab from 2019 for Fast Company, the author explained why, at the moment, AI is not able to match human creativity.

The capabilities of humans and Artificial Intelligence machines are complementary.

An important reason is because the neural networks used by smart machines are machine learning algorithms that are based primarily on statistical regression. This means that while they are good at identifying patterns, they are not so good at anticipating when a pattern will change, much less connecting a pattern with another pattern that it is not related to.

In the case of the application of Sherpa.ai, its founder Xabi Uribe-Etxebarria explained to the media that the solution materialized after a few weeks of intense work with the management of the Basque Government’s Health department. Humans are excellent at initiating understanding and preparing a solution to a complex problem. This ability is related to general intelligence.

This connection of unrelated patterns is central to creativity and is closely related to a concept known as serendipity. This concept coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 from the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip refers to a discovery or a lucky and unexpected discovery that occurs when you are looking for something else.

At the moment, AI is not able to match human creativity.

Throughout the history of humanity we find very important scientific innovations that have arisen as a consequence of serendipity. An example from the world of health could be the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming. Serendipity is also closely related to the artistic world. In fact, many artists from different disciplines use random and improvisational techniques to generate ideas.

These techniques promote divergent thinking, approach challenges from a different perspective, and can foster a creative environment. Random techniques involve incorporating causality into the creative process. Improvisation, also known as spontaneity, can lead to the discovery of new thought patterns and new ways of acting.

In conclusion, the potential of mixing the capabilities of smart machines with human creativity can generate important creative solutions to overcome important challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic.