How creative a "video SMS" can be?

Computer analyses of Vine clips to identify the level of creativity... Credit: Yahoo Labs

In just 2 years (actually less than that...) Vine has become a widespread reality capturing the eyeballs of millions around the world. To me it looks a bit like having a video SMS, although it is much more and it requires much higher skill. The idea behind Vine is that you can convey a message, a feeling, an emotion by using a 6 second video clip. And in less than two years the Vine app has been downloaded millions of times. Some mind-blowing statistics:

- 40 million users in the first 8 months

- 100 million people have watched a Vine clip in the month of August 2014

- over 1 billion clips played in August 2014

- 25% of US teens are using Vine as of September 2014 (57% of them female)

- 5 Vines are tweeted every second

Now, having all these clips available researchers at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain, tried to see if a computer, using the latest progress in image recognition and understanding, can sort out the clips in terms of creativity. This clearly begs the question of the possibility for a computer to detect creativity (remember that beyond the Turing test  there is the Ada Lovelace test for machine intelligence that is based on creativity, i.e. can a computer be creative?).

What they did was to select 4,000 clips, part of them that were topping the list of most interesting ones by viewers opinion and part chosen randomly.  Then they had a group of 300 volunteers (crowdsourced) analysing the clips (5 reviewers per clip) and ranking the in terms of creativity.

The first interesting result was to discover an amazing agreement on creativity: 50% of the opinions were 100% in agreement on the creativity level of clips!

Then they submitted the clips to analyses by a computer adopting a variety of metrics and eventually had a machine learning what humans feel as creative.

The end result was that clips analysed by the computer matched at an amazing 80% the opinion of people on the creativity of a clip.

We are clearly far from Ada Lovelace test (here it is about expressing a judgment on creativity, not about being creative) but still it is somewhat awkward (at least to me) that a computer may get the same feelings on something as "immaterial" as creativity as ourselves....

Author - Roberto Saracco

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