Friday, December 07, 2001

One thing just struck me when I was thinking about what I wrote in my last blog update. I came to think about the French author Georges Perec. (I am not really sure that he was French, I rather believe that he grew up somewhere in the Caribbean, hence a Creole writer who wrote his books in French.) He was a member of some kind of writers collective that tried to increase their creativity by limiting their freedom. The idea was, if I indeed remember everything correctly, that if you are tightly restricted in your imaginative space, then you have to be extra creative to still come up with something interesting. Perec, for instance, decided to write a novel without using the letter 'e', and every francophone knows how common that letter is in French. It in fact excludes about seven eighths of the words in the French dictionary. The novel is called 'La Disparition' or 'A Void' in the English translation.

So, what has this to do with yesterday's thoughts on the potential creativity of computers? Well, my argument was that we have to consider the computer creative when it reaches a high level of complexity, though just how high a level is arbitrary. Perec and his friends in a way challenge that line of thought. I guess, according to their idea of improving the creativity by reducing the freedom, complexity is not the issue. With extremely strict limitations a high level of complexity will not be possible, but but the degree of creativity will rise - at least according to my interpretation of the ideas of the before mentioned writers collective (And, by the way, does anyone remember their name?).

The question is of course, does Perec's argument make sense in the first place? I'll leave that for you to consider.


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