Computers make people less creative

Human creativity is irreplaceable

Not even you as a brain researcher?
Imagine a thinker who ponders something for a long time, wakes up in the morning and suddenly he has the solution. That is a mystery to himself.


Do such flashes of inspiration come suddenly or is the solution prepared in the subconscious?
Both. When someone wakes up at night and suddenly has the solution, even though he has long since shelved the problem, that is the aha moment. There are also association bridges that are strange and not purposeful. That is why it is not possible to set up general rules for all these processes.


As soon as such rules existed, one could try to transfer them to an intelligent machine in the form of algorithms.
A computer could be ordered to link at random. But nothing useful would come of it. Creativity is not random linking like a random generator, but a higher kind of goal setting. How a person does this depends very much on his personality. There are creative personalities, i.e. people who tend to link knowledge in new ways. But only a few can do that.


What is going on in the brain?
Dopamine plays an important role in this. It is a neuromodulator - a chemical substance that influences the functioning of the nervous system and is related to learning, enthusiasm and creativity. All of this takes place in our frontal lobe in the prefrontal cortex, part of the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex.


Does this mean that creativity, like the human psyche, is related to biochemical processes?
Exactly. In depression, for example, there is a lack of the messenger substance serotonin and an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol. In the so-called productive phase of schizophrenia, we are faced with an overproduction of dopamine. Those affected become super creative, so to speak. All sorts of absurd and bizarre things come to mind. Such surges in creative people and schizophrenics have something to do with each other.


Does that mean: creativity and intelligence are based on different biochemical processes?
That is the current view of brain research. At least partially different neuronal processes are set in motion.


What role will creativity and the spirit of innovation play in the future, for example in the world of work?
Computers take over more and more tasks there and more and more people lose their jobs unless they are intelligent and creative enough.


Will humans ever become superfluous due to increasing automation, digitization and networking?
That is not to be feared. The problem lies elsewhere: the more tasks computers take on, the less we understand the contexts and reasons that arise. No matter how much intellectual work intelligent machines do for people, people still have to classify it, evaluate it and draw conclusions from it.


What function should computers play? Are they an addition or a substitute for human creativity?
Nobody can really want a computer dictatorship because then people would no longer have any freedom of choice. That would be very uncomfortable for him.


Could the capabilities of both be networked in terms of human-machine interaction?
Such an idea was not only contemplated, but also tried. For technical reasons, however, it failed. So far it has not been possible to replace parts of the cerebral cortex on a large scale because there are no functional artificial nerve cells. Even if they existed, we cannot implant them at the moment because they do not grow into the brain.


If technology continues like this, unemployment will rise inexorably as computers replace people. Is that worth striving for?
Think of the coal shovel on the first electric locomotives. Actually, you no longer need him. But they let him go with them so that he would not become unemployed. Much of what computers could do today will continue to be done by people because you don't want to just put them on the street. And this dilemma will only increase. Unless you invest in more and better education. People have to be trained much earlier, more intensively and more systematically.


A plea for a completely new education and knowledge society?
Exactly. But we are far from that. It is a very distant and expensive destination.