The Creativity Code


Fourth Estate, 2019

As a species, we have an extraordinary ability to create works of art that elevate, expand and transform what it means to be human. The novels of Henry James can communicate the inner world of one human being to another. The music of Wagner or Schubert takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride as we give ourselves up to their sublime sounds.

These are the expressions of what Marcus du Sautoy calls ‘the creativity code’. Yet some believe that the new developments in AI and machine learning are so sophisticated that they can learn what it means to be human – that they can crack the code.

• Technology has always allowed us to extend our understanding of being human. But will the new tools of AI allow to us to create in different ways?

• Could recent developments in AI and machine learning also mean that it is no longer just human beings who can create art?

• And creativity, like consciousness, is one of those words that is hard to pin down: what is it that we are challenging these machines to do?

In The Creativity Code, Marcus du Sautoy examines what these new developments might mean, for both the creative arts and his own subject, mathematics. From the Turing test to AlphaGo, are there limits to what algorithms can achieve, or might they be able to perfectly mimic human creativity? And what’s more, could they help Marcus to see more deeply into the complex mathematical problems with which he so often wrestles?

What people think about the Creativity Code:

“Fact-packed and funny, questioning what we mean be creative and unsettling the script about what it means to be human, The Creativity Code is a brilliant travel guide to the coming world of AI” Jeanette Winterson.

“Du Sautoy is the light-bearer, illuminating not only the work of coders and creators, but the mathematics of chaos than underpin art and our emotional responses to it.” Han Ulrich Obrist.

“What a wonderful, brilliant, joyous read! Marcus makes it seem so easy, and such fun, to begin to understand that which appears complex, frightening and beautiful, and the magic of being human.” Philippe Sands.

“Why could a machine one day not create a truly original work of art? The answers, in this compelling and thought-provoking book, can be found by breaking down what it actually means to be creative.” Jim Al-Khalili.