Attributing Creative Agency: Are we doing it right?

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Oliver Bown: Attributing Creative Agency: Are we doing it right?. In: Computational Creativity 2015 ICCC 2015, 17-22.



When contemplating the creativity of computational systems, a host of factors have been taken into consideration, many of which people have attempted to measure or otherwise operationalise: novelty, value, P-creativity versus H-creativity, exploration versus transformation, the subjective evaluation and contextualisation of the artefact, and so on. Whilst of equal importance, the systematic and rigorous attribution of creative agency to different actors in the production of a specific output has been given less attention. It is common to make the simplifying assumption that the most direct contributor to an artefact is that artefact’s sole author, but arguably this is never the case: all human creativity occurs in the context of networks of mutual influence, including a cumulative pool of knowledge.

This paper looks at how we might better formalise creative authorship such that for any artefact, a set of agents could be precisely attributed with their relative contributions to the existence of that entity. It asks only what the nature of this formalisation should be, and concludes that a more critical approach is needed to the creative agency of human actors, and thus the expected creative agency of machines.

I draw on two critical notions that can inform a methodology for the ascription of creative origins in computational creativity: becoming, and the agency of networks of interaction.

I look at a example from both historical human creativity and computation creativity, to consider how we can break down creative agency and ascribe it to different sources. Practical implications are dicsussed.

Extended Abstract


 author = {Bown, Oliver},
 title = {Attributing Creative Agency: Are we doing it right?},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Computational Creativity},
 series = {ICCC2015},
 year = {2015},
 month = {Jun},
 location = {Park City, Utah, USA},
 pages = {17-22},
 url = { },
 publisher = {International Association for Computational Creativity},
 keywords = {computational, creativity},

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