With the rate of technological change faster than ever, companies cannot leave research and development to chance.

The increase in publishing scientists and the number of academic journals has caused an explosion in scientific research and information.

There are now 2.5 million new scientific papers published each year and 90 percent of the world’s information was created in just the last two years.

The vast amount of information available means it is difficult for research and development teams to access and analyse all the information relevant to their project.

Furthermore, it is becoming impossible to have deep expertise spanning a significant number of subject areas.

Fuelled by machine learning, AI enables the rapid processing of data from all industry sectors. This could lead to the discovery of creative and innovative new technologies by identifying patterns not immediately visible to the human eye. Instead of relying on an inventor to have the next big idea or, as in the case of penicillin and the microwave, a lucky accident. AI could be a significant aid to product design and development, with nothing left to chance.

In the pharmaceutical industry, AI has been a powerful tool used to identify targets for drug development, sifting through biological data to locate suitable proteins to target. This process would have previously been slow and laborious, but can now be done more efficiently, helping new drugs be discovered and come to market more quickly.

AI techniques, from machine learning to pattern recognition, have already proved helpful in virtually every industry. Healthcare, finance and retail are just a few that are reaping the benefits of advanced cognition capabilities. There is no doubt the boundaries of AI’s role in creative endeavours will be pushed. And while it will never replace the human soul of creativity, AI can certainly offer many benefits serving as a smart, efficient and inspirational assistant.

In 2016, the IBM Watson platform was used for the first AI created film trailer for 20th Century Fox’s horror film, Morgan. During the project Watson analysed the visuals, sound and composition of hundreds of existing horror film trailers. Watson then selected scenes from the completed Morgan film for editors to stitch together into the trailer, ultimately reducing what could have been a process of many weeks to one day.

Machine learning is typically deep rather than broad, so the trick is combining these skills effectively. As a creative toolkit, it can augment an existing creative idea or technique, or make mundane tasks more efficient.

The demand for creativity will also increase. There is no limit to the need for creative content, but the quality of it is limited by people, by time, and by how creative they can be. So, as AI enables these things to become more spontaneous, we will have a fresh army of people developing creative work, and thus creating more demand.

As well as traditional product design, the process of generating as many ideas as possible, before narrowing down to a single idea, can be used to invent entirely new products. Information from a range of sectors can be fed into the AI and processed into a product, converging knowledge from a range of sectors into and interdisciplinary ideas – much like a polymath would have done during the Renaissance.

AI is already great at performing specific tasks, such as facial and voice recognition, object tracking, or even transposing your face onto someone else’s body, and due to advances in deep learning, computers are starting to learn and frame reality visually in the same way as humans perceive it.

Using techniques such as deep learning has enabled tremendous progress, but AI remains relegated to an assistant role, for now.

Creativity may be the ultimate mission for AI. Already AI has helped write pop ballads, mimicked the styles of great painters and informed creative decisions in filmmaking. Experts wonder, however, how far AI can or should go in the creative process.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in what we can achieve in the field of amazing, immersive, personalised experiences. In the future, the intelligence may be artificial and the reality virtual, but the impact on creativity is very real indeed.

There are lots of similarities between now and a theory about what triggered the Cambrian Explosion. According to that theory, once creatures developed vision that worked, there was a huge acceleration of evolution and the emergence of a wide variety of new forms and behaviours. Today, AI is driving a new kind of evolution, especially with advancements in visual perception and its application to everything from drones to artistic creativity.

AI can distil the wisdom of the crowd and express it as a useful tool. Essentially, it could help us create new art and discover new knowledge as we learn from each other. It is easy to see the time we can save and the productivity we can gain from these applications. It is equally as easy to see how this could keep creative types from getting tied down in tedious tasks so they can have more time for inspiration and doing the thoughtful work of design.

When everyone can attain a certain standard of creative productivity, it will force those who are truly gifted to strive for even higher standards of creativity and originality. The world will become even more beautiful and entertaining as a result.

It is easy for AI to come up with something novel just randomly. But it is very hard to come up with something that is novel and unexpected and useful. Can we take what humans think is beautiful and creative and try to put that into an algorithm? Possibly sooner than you think…

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