Dirk Dobiéy & Thomas Koeplin

The Abolition of Creativity I

An Essay on Artificial and Artistic Intelligence (1/5)

Part 1: What makes us irreplaceable

The highest hopes for economic growth are linked to technological progress. Technological progress unveils fascinating possibilities. At the same time the upheavals associated with it are partly also highly problematic and their consequences mostly unpredictable. Most far-reaching, or at least most apparent, are the advances we have made in the field of digitisation and so-called Artificial Intelligence. Intelligent machines, connected to us and with each other, will help us to gain new free spaces. They help with decision-making, increase productivity, take away work, make room for new tasks, make life more comfortable, and perhaps also make us better people.

However, their use will also make entire occupations disappear and rob people of their livelihood. The question of what makes people irreplaceable comes to the fore. The question becomes even compelling if you work on helping machines achieve a kind of perception, learning, and action that equals or surpasses that of a human being. Meanwhile, many researchers, including the late Stephen Hawking, point out that the creation of artificial intelligence could easily become our last invention. Everything works towards understanding, copying, and changing the perceptible nature. We try to redesign and surpass our world and ourselves according to their example and far beyond.

Nevertheless, Bill Briggs, Chief Technology Officer at Deloitte, believes that we will continue to be superior to machines in everything that requires creativity and human interaction. For him, there are two things technology cannot replace: firstly, the preservation of humanity. Secondly, the work on wicked problems which are complex problems, that cannot be precisely defined, that have more than one possible solution and where, nevertheless, every decision and every action has noticeable effects. [1] The search for life on Mars is such a wicked problem. Global challenges such as climate change or migration are wicked problems or consist of even more such problems. Moreover, our organisations are also facing complex problems triggered by competitive pressure and progress in a globally connected, digital world. When simple, linear problems are increasingly automated, people should be able to focus more on solving social issues and complex tasks. However, we need to train more skills that have played less of a role so far. They include the ability to perceive, reflect, design, deal with uncertainty and ambiguity – all abilities that are at home in the artistic field.

Eric Schmidt – and that he already said it 15 years ago is remarkable – says, “You need to let the artists explore and create the next great thing, which they will do reliably if you permit it. “[2] But even as such demands are getting more prominent these days, we find that technological progress is usually unintentional but increasingly vehement in suppressing creativity.


To the next part > Efficiency and Variety

In the next part of our series “Efficiency and Variety”, we explore the question of how to escape the ground for creativity through our drive for efficiency.


About this Text:

This essay is based on our research over the past four years. What makes our findings true-to-life and applicable is that we have conducted more than 100 interviews with artists of all genres to date, but also with scientists of various disciplines and with numerous business representatives.

We report on this in detail in our book “Creative Company” (


Sources:[1]Briggs, Bill; Exponentials: Tech Trends 2014, online available under, last checked on Oktober 8. 2018.[2]Schmidt, Eric (2003). Foreword. In: Robert Daniel D. Austin, & Lee Devin. Artful making: What managers need to know about how artists work. FT Press.

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