Creativity, UX and what makes us human?

Defining creativity:

"It's one's ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative."

As quoted from the Cambridge English Dictionary[18]

Steve jobs is quoted as saying this:

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

The definition of creativity depends on who you ask, generally creativity is defined as being:

"The quality to be able to create new and unique ideas or look at a problem through a new perspective. This process ends up creating some form of value."

Over history, science has struggled to explore creativity because it's very hard to objectify the concept, however, what we can do is find out what causes creativity. With this, we need to take a step back to look at two of the main causes for creative thinking, they are called divergent and convergent thought processes.

In addition and of particular note, studies have shown that objective creative thinking ability correlates highly with the individuals ability in self reported creative behavior and creative accomplishments. In turn this promotes self awareness of creativity, something a machine cannot yet do. This is something I intend to explore later on.[21]

With this we can see how a person or machine would be able to form a creative idea. An example of divergent thinking would to be given a singular stimulus or a problem for example and to figure out six solutions to it. An example of convergent thinking would to be given six stimuli or (facts about the issue) and to find the root cause of a problem.

To better understand these types of thinking you can perform certain tests, such as the Remote - Associates - Test or RAT test.

This will test your ability to develop a creative solution to a problem. It's different from an IQ test which aims primarily to test direct problem solving solutions, whereas this aims to test creative solutions.[24]

You can take the test here if you want, name the associated word when you see the three words "show, life and row" for example. The items themselves have been arranged in various difficulties. When you're finished, compare your answers to the correct answers. Please take as long as you need.

The RAT Test:

RAT Item: Show / Life / Row

Difficulty: Very easy

Solution: Boat

RAT Item: Safety / Cushion / Point

Difficulty: Easy


RAT Item: Light / Birthday / Stick

Difficulty: Medium

Solution: Candle

RAT Item: Chamber / Mask / Natural

Difficulty: Hard

Solution: Gas

RAT Item: Illness / Bus / Computer

Difficulty: Very hard

Solution: Terminal

This test was and is still used by physiologists to measure convergent thinking skills. A higher score indicates higher creative convergent thinking. A core part of creativity.[25]

To measure divergent thinking, I would encourage you to complete the Candle Problem below:[27]

The Candle Problem:

The Candle problem: How do you fix and light a candle on a wall in a way so the candle wax won't drip onto the table below? To do so, one may only use the following along with the candle.[28]

  • One book of matches
  • One box of thumbtacks

The Candle problem solution: The best solution to this problem is to empty the thumbtacks from the box, then nail the box to the wall with those same thumbtacks, then light the candle with the match.[28]

You may have made mistakes, you may also have got every task correct, but what you will have done is inspire creative thought, with this you can have a good understanding of creation of creative thinking going into future chapters.

Sadly it's still hard to measure the concept of creativity as its roots delve deep into neuro-scientific research yet undertaken. For now we can only wonder what else there is yet to know within our most labyrinthian organ.

Gestalt Psychology and the Laws of UX:

To understand an AI's image recognition capabilities, we must first understand human perception so that we may compare it.

As a creative professional, I would categorise myself as a UX designer or User Experience designer, I design products that meet an individual or group of individuals needs by researching how they perceive, use and understand a product.

Within this context there are certain laws and principles that can help guide me through this process. But firstly, some context into their creation.

The Gestalt psychological principles are a series of laws that emerged from three German scientists during the late 1800s, the principles include proximity, similarity, figure-ground, continuity, closure, and connection, these determine how humans perceive visual material in connection with different objects and environments.

In addition to Gestalt, there are other principles like Hicks Law and Max Wertheimer theory of perception. It's important to understand these principles as they are a stumbling block for creative AI.

Gestalt principle of similarity: The human eye tends to perceive similar elements in a design as a complete picture, shape, or group, even if those elements are separated.

Law of Prägnanz: People will perceive and interpret ambiguous or complex images as the simplest form possible, because it is the interpretation that requires the least cognitive effort of us. For example, this would be perceived as a circle.

Hick’s Law: The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices. For example, indexing a list would make for faster processing of the items.

These laws are what make us unique, it's how we perceive the world, how we associate with different context and physiologically, we have grown to understand different laws which dictate our creative thinking.[1]

Two shapes placed in certain orientations infer meaning and purpose, they have their own character and design. Our brain has evolved to consider this through natural selection. These laws aren't simply a matter of coincidence. They are organic in nature and are part of the creative construct, built to help us understand the natural world. A machine cannot do this, not without prior programming, however, it's becoming a reality that is drawing closer every day.