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

17 mins ago - Podcasts

Rural America has its own coronavirus problem

It's often easier to socially distance in rural America, but it can simultaneously be more challenging to get medical care.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the pandemic's urban-rural divide with microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, who has found that coronavirus-related morbidity is higher in many of Georgia's rural counties than in Atlanta.

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 12,373,722 — Total deaths: 556,863 — Total recoveries — 6,794,982Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 3,156,234 — Total deaths: 133,746 — Total recoveries: 969,111 — Total tested: 38,032,966Map.
  3. Public health: The U.S.'s new default strategy: herd immunity — 23 states and D.C. are mandating face coverings.
  4. ✈️ Travel: Delta CEO says Trump administration should issue mask mandate for air travelAirlines say air quality, cleanliness lower risk.

Biden and Trump point fingers over "buy American" proposals

Joe Biden at a campaign event in Wilmington, DE. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump and Joe Biden are going back and forth over the former vice president's "buy American" economic proposal, which Trump claims Biden "plagiarized" from him.

Why it matters: Biden is directly challenging Trump and his "America First" agenda with the release of his latest plan, focused on economic recovery and re-investing in American manufacturing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.