Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New psychology theory enables computers to mimic human creativity

Date:
December 2, 2010
Source:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
A mathematical model based on psychology theory allows computers to mimic human creative problem-solving, and provides a new roadmap to architects of artificial intelligence.

A mathematical model based on psychology theory allows computers to mimic human creative problem-solving, and provides a new roadmap to architects of artificial intelligence.
Credit: iStockphoto/Baris Onal

A dealer in antique coins gets an offer to buy a beautiful bronze coin. The coin has an emperor's head on one side and the date "544 B.C." stamped on the other. The dealer examines the coin, but instead of buying it, he calls the police. Why?

Related Articles


Solving this "insight problem" requires creativity, a skill at which humans excel (the coin is a fake -- "B.C." and Arabic numerals did not exist at the time) and computers do not. Now, a new explanation of how humans solve problems creatively -- including the mathematical formulations for facilitating the incorporation of the theory in artificial intelligence programs -- provides a roadmap to building systems that perform like humans at the task.

Ron Sun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor of cognitive science, said the new "Explicit-Implicit Interaction Theory," recently introduced in an article in Psychological Review, could be used for future artificial intelligence.

"As a psychological theory, this theory pushes forward the field of research on creative problem solving and offers an explanation of the human mind and how we solve problems creatively," Sun said. "But this model can also be used as the basis for creating future artificial intelligence programs that are good at solving problems creatively."

The paper, titled "Incubation, Insight, and Creative Problem Solving: A Unified Theory and a Connectionist Model," by Sun and Sèbastien Hèlie of University of California, Santa Barbara, appeared in the July edition of Psychological Review. Discussion of the theory is accompanied by mathematical specifications for the "CLARION" cognitive architecture -- a computer program developed by Sun's research group to act like a cognitive system -- as well as successful computer simulations of the theory.

In the paper, Sun and Hèlie compare the performance of the CLARION model using "Explicit-Implicit Interaction" theory with results from previous human trials -- including tests involving the coin question -- and found results to be nearly identical in several aspects of problem solving.

In the tests involving the coin question, human subjects were given a chance to respond after being interrupted either to discuss their thought process or to work on an unrelated task. In that experiment, 35.6 percent of participants answered correctly after discussing their thinking, while 45.8 percent of participants answered correctly after working on another task.

In 5,000 runs of the CLARION program set for similar interruptions, CLARION answered correctly 35.3 percent of the time in the first instance, and 45.3 percent of the time in the second instance.

"The simulation data matches the human data very well," said Sun.

Explicit-Implicit Interaction theory is the most recent advance on a well-regarded outline of creative problem solving known as "Stage Decomposition," developed by Graham Wallas in his seminal 1926 book "The Art of Thought." According to stage decomposition, humans go through four stages -- preparation, incubation, insight (illumination), and verification -- in solving problems creatively.

Building on Wallas' work, several disparate theories have since been advanced to explain the specific processes used by the human mind during the stages of incubation and insight. Competing theories propose that incubation -- a period away from deliberative work -- is a time of recovery from fatigue of deliberative work, an opportunity for the mind to work unconsciously on the problem, a time during which the mind discards false assumptions, or a time in which solutions to similar problems are retrieved from memory, among other ideas.

Each theory can be represented mathematically in artificial intelligence models. However, most models choose between theories rather than seeking to incorporate multiple theories and therefore they are fragmentary at best.

Sun and Hèlie's Explicit-Implicit Interaction (EII) theory integrates several of the competing theories into a larger equation.

"EII unifies a lot of fragmentary pre-existing theories," Sun said. "These pre-existing theories only account for some aspects of creative problem solving, but not in a unified way. EII unifies those fragments and provides a more coherent, more complete theory."

The basic principles of EII propose the coexistence of two different types of knowledge and processing: explicit and implicit. Explicit knowledge is easier to access and verbalize, can be rendered symbolically, and requires more attention to process. Implicit knowledge is relatively inaccessible, harder to verbalize, and is more vague and requires less attention to process.

In solving a problem, explicit knowledge could be the knowledge used in reasoning, deliberately thinking through different options, while implicit knowledge is the intuition that gives rise to a solution suddenly. Both types of knowledge are involved simultaneously to solve a problem and reinforce each other in the process. By including this principle in each step, Sun was able to achieve a successful system.

"This tells us how creative problem solving may emerge from the interaction of explicit and implicit cognitive processes; why both types of processes are necessary for creative problem solving, as well as in many other psychological domains and functionalities," said Sun.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sébastien Hélie, Ron Sun. Incubation, insight, and creative problem solving: A unified theory and a connectionist model.. Psychological Review, 2010; 117 (3): 994 DOI: 10.1037/a0019532

Cite This Page:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "New psychology theory enables computers to mimic human creativity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201124345.htm>.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. (2010, December 2). New psychology theory enables computers to mimic human creativity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201124345.htm
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "New psychology theory enables computers to mimic human creativity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201124345.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) — Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) — A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) — Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins