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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

26 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
  5. Local: Ultra-rich Florida community got vaccinations in January.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Why fears of a SPAC bubble may be overblown

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The SPAC surge continues unabated, with 10 new ones formed since Wednesday morning. And that's OK.

Between the lines: There are growing concerns that retail investors are about to get rolled, with smart sponsors taking advantage of dumb money.