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Our expert voices conversation about computers and creativity.

Computers can trouble us with evocative nonsense — see the (machine-generated) title to this piece. Anyone who has written code knows that insanity is always close to breaking out. Yet novelty for novelty's sake is a weak image of what we truly seek: contact and communion with others.

To write a poem (or, indeed, a scientific paper) is to join a company of players: the young scientist hopes to exceed her mentor just as much as Keats did Milton. At our most creative we contest the past that others have made, and struggle to make the future over. The test of my creativity is what it enables other to do, and whether or not my patterns survive in their responses.

Computers, however, have yet to do battle with Milton, or William Burroughs, or David Foster Wallace. Facebook's algorithms seek only more clicks, not acolytes, apprentices, or conflicts with jealous disciples. One day chatbots might do more than manipulate elections on Twitter: they might, like Keats, strive to exceed our pasts and enrich our futures.

Bottom line: To be creative, computers will have to join us — and we, perhaps, them.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
34 mins ago - Science

Biden's military space future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.