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  • Ilana Greenberg

Is Creativity a Thing of the Past?

Since the birth of civilization, humans have been in competition with technology. Technological innovations have diminished the need for workers in tasks requiring physical labor, efficient repetition, and mass production because such skills are easily replaceable. Artificial Intelligence is a leap in such technology that is no longer a dream of science fiction movies. Rather, it is a true reality that threatens to change the way we interact with the world. AI recognizes our faces when we unlock our iPhones, gives us movie recommendations on our favorite streaming services, and now, with the creation of Chat GPT, AI is a student’s dream: it can write essays. Historically, the replacement of humans with machines is not an uncommon occurrence. And now - I can't help but ask, is creativity, too, a thing of the past?

Before machines, skill was valued as an attribute that could not be replicated. During the Industrial Revolution, however, the ability to put a tire on a car or sow a dress together became practically useless, as it was no longer unique. A “skilled worker” was not enough; machines were as “skilled”, and technology had raised the standard. In more recent times, the achievements of NASA’s human “computers,” whose intellect put a man on the moon, are incomparable to the mathematical and computational power of the iPhones that we hold right in our hands. Even intelligence seems to be replaceable. Now, a computer claims to generate creativity, jeopardizing abilities like programming and writing. If your talent is something that a computer can do, it’s not good enough.

As a student with access to technological resources that simplify everything from conducting research to learning a language, I suppose that I should embrace technological advancement. But quite frankly, I’m tired of technology. My dependence on the newest gadgets and gizmos has limited my practical abilities: I don’t know how to search through a library to conduct a research project, I find it difficult to study without online aids, and I can’t even hand in an assignment without internet access to Google Classroom. Is it too much to ask to be able to turn in an essay without worrying that a teacher will question whether it was written by a robot?

I fear that technology has not only limited our independence in daily functions but also undermined hard work and self-achievement. North Shore offers an introductory class called “Writing Lab'', giving ninth-graders a year of individualized instruction on how to structure creative works. But Chat GPT knows how to write an introduction, a thesis, and three body paragraphs (with citations in MLA format) in less than a minute, which is more than what some ninth-grade students can do by the end of the year.

The implications of Chat GPT range even further, into the realm of philosophy: If, supposedly, technology’s completion of creative tasks is as effortless as its completion of physical labor, does this suggest that human creativity is synthetic, predictable, and replicable by a machine? I selfishly worry about what effect this will have on my own future. Will years spent on academic achievement be devalued in an instant? And, even scarier, is every hour that I devote to my love of writing now worth no more than a quick chatbot query?

To ease my concerns, I imagine that we can learn to live in tandem with technology, not in competition with it. The true value lies in our usage of the tools at our disposal to enhance, not replace, human achievement. Let’s remember that technology is our puppet. We are still its masters.

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