Introduction: Beyond “new”…

This is a series of essays about the ways we create, the tools that help us do it, and how machine intelligence—that is, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies—will support our future creativity.

We’re used to seeing emerging technologies advertized like billboards for new creative domains: new spaces, made up of new materials, shaped with new tools, for a breed of new creatives. But this series isn’t about machine intelligence in that way. Instead, it’s about using machine intelligence as a lens through which to observe our creative experiences as they exist today, and to consider the ways that those experiences are changing.

This lens doesn’t require a deep technical knowledge of machine learning, or even past experience with artificial intelligence. In a future where these technologies are foundational to our creative experiences, all creatives will make with machine intelligence in some way, shape, or form. As a result, just enough jargon is provided here to detail relevant functionalities and their behaviors where helpful.

Indeed, where questions of machine intelligence may start with concerns of the technical—How is it made? How well does it work? What are its use cases?—the creative significance of these technologies is perhaps better understood by first looking to creativity and its tools. Instead of technical questions, these essays will explore creative questions.

Across all sections, machine intelligence is offered as a response to the present, and the driver towards a future context that we can project our observations of creativity into. This future context is repeatedly referred to as “the next creative wave”.

Ultimately, the arrival of machine intelligence within creative domains means more than just new features in creative products. It signals a paradigm shift that will transform the shape of creative tools, the flow of the creative process, and the fundamentals of creativity itself. This collection of essays shares a view of these transformations in our creative culture, and the characteristics of machine intelligence that are causing them to occur.

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1. Machine intelligence Signals the next wave of creative tools

The history of digital creative tools is aligned closely to the history of consumer tech innovation. Key developments in graphics processing, high-speed internet, and portable devices have shaped “waves” in creative tooling. A growing adoption of machine intelligence technologies suggest the next wave in digital creative tools is arriving.