Neural Net that Invents Things

The Creativity Machine is a special application of neural networks based on the deliberate introduction of mathematical noise into the network. By adding noise after the network has been trained, the system is able to wander around slightly less rigidly, leading it to “free associate” and even to “dream” and “hallucinate.” Stephen Thaler came up with this idea after becoming curious about what happens when the human brain dies. He began experimenting with deliberately killing his neural nets by randomly degrading the weights connecting the artificial neurons in the system to simulate cell death. He found that as they “died” the network generated memories, then fragmentary memories, and finally new conceptions made from the shards of memories. This led him to realize that he could stimulate artificial creativity in his neural nets by adding noise to the weights and then seeing what the system dreamed. In the past I spoke with him about this technology; now it looks like things are finally moving forward with it. Stephen is definitely a visionary.

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