AI may stifle creativity

LETTERS: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm. So much so, that the acronym "AI" was named the Collins Word of the Year for 2023.

Just like personal computing and the world wide web, AI is leaving an indelible mark on the world of education.

Generative AI applications have proliferated, from ChatGPT to ChatPDF and Jenni AI for text; Midjourney and DALL-E for visuals, AIVA and Soundful for audio, and Synthesia and InVideo for videos.

While these are all amazing technological advancements, AI has also been met with cynicism, especially among those who champion human creativity.

I am an advocate of using AI to enhance teaching and learning, but I am also worried about the possible impact AI can have on the originality and creativity of our younger generation, who will use AI for the rest of their lives.

One of my tasks is to assess student presentations, be it undergraduates in class or research presentations by postgraduates.

After almost 20 years in academia, student presentations have remained largely unchanged.

Considering the range of modern presentation tools available today, one would expect student presentations to be more unique and different from one another.

What I often see are presentations that, at their core, are the same, just with different graphics and colour schemes. They seem to lack originality.

Tools like Canva and Visme are exceptional for creating visually engaging presentations and graphic designs. Each offers thousands of visual assets, themes and designs to help you make any kind of presentation you want.

Which, on the surface, sounds amazing, but does simply choosing a template from a library help students develop a sense of originality? Is it creative expression or merely a choice made on a whim?

Additionally, these presentation tools also come with generative AI to help users write the content. So not only would the designs and aesthetics of presentations lack student originality, even the written content could be generated by AI as well.

Assessment of student work is one aspect of education that needs to be reimagined thanks to the possibility of students submitting AI-generated work as their own.

But more importantly, and of far greater concern, the development of student originality, creativity and critical thinking could also be impacted using generative AI.

If students graduate having an under-developed sense of originality and a poorer capacity for critical thinking, how would that affect their careers? And if our graduates struggle to think creatively, what does that mean for future innovation?

In the video game "Detroit: Become Human", human-like androids live side-by-side with mankind. At one point in the game, players learn that in this fictional world set in 2038, less than five per cent of music is made by humans, with androids making the rest.

We are unlikely to ever reach this point of civilisation in our lifetime, but I do believe that the rampant proliferation of generative AI will eventually begin to diminish human creativity if we are not careful.


Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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