The rapid advancement of AI technology is transforming the way we live, work, interact with each other and create. AI has been around for a while performing many tasks that were once the exclusive domain of human workers such as data entry, translation, customer service, predictive maintenance (my car telling me when it needs a service). But being able to generate perfectly coherent, grammatically correct, well structured, long-form text on any topic in under a few seconds is a game changer.

Last December I wrote a blog post that was almost completely generated by ChatGPT called “Can you Guess Who My Mystery Guest Is?” If you missed it, you can read it here. You could sense my incredulity in the last paragraph. What? Completely coherent, long-form, grammatically correct text generated in under a few seconds by AI? Surely the stuff of science fiction. But less than 3 months down the track and that seems like ancient history. People have found a multitude of ways to use it. There are countless tutorials on YouTube. Other tec companies have developed their own versions. ChatGPT is already in the next stage of evolution with a paid version which presumably does even more.

What AI can do is mind-blowing – but can it be creative?

The popular narrative is that AI cannot emulate human creativity as that is an exclusively human skill. But I’m not so sure about that. I asked ChatGPT to write some poetry in a variety of different formats on different subjects that I nominated. Haikus, sonnets, odes, free form. While they may not win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – they weren’t bad. So, the answer to the question posed in this article’s title is …. YES.

BUT …..

Only to a point. There is a big difference between poetry that simply conforms to a particular structure with a good rhyming scheme – and poetry that evokes deep emotion and touches the soul. And I haven’t seen the latter (as yet) from AI generated poetry.

AI is good at recognising and using patterns, less so at making leaps of thought that go in unexpected directions. Art forms like stand-up comedy that that are built on that unexpected twist are safe for now. AI researchers are working on it – but funny AI is still a long way off (unless they can get a robot to slip on a banana peel)

I asked Chat why it wasn’t funny.

Answer. “AI can generate comedy, but the quality of the output depends on several factors, such as the data it was trained on, the algorithms used, and the creativity and humour of the people who designed the system. AI systems can generate jokes, puns, and comedic scenarios, but they often lack the depth of understanding and nuance that are necessary for truly great comedy. …..” And three more paragraphs like that.

Should have just said,” What do you mean, I’m not funny? I’m damn hilarious!”

Creative people break the boundaries of rigid, linear thinking. They are highly cognitively flexible. They think ‘sideways’, put unexpected ideas and concepts together that produce innovative and novel results. Combine this with mastery of a discipline and you have clever creativity (as distinct from the naive creativity of your 4-year-old niece). Clever creativity is sophisticated, surprising, sometimes elegantly simple. It straddles boundaries, plaits together disparate ideas and feeds on curiosity. Striving for it can be intellectually messy, frustrating and excruciating. And it is precisely that process that gives it depth, texture and soul.

But AI is evolving so fast, this could have all changed by next month.