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KUED's online series exploring creativity

Dan Ventura, Computer Programer

When Dan Ventura saw his first computer in the eighth grade, it was love at first sight. He started teaching himself computer programming and never stopped. Now, as a professor in Brigham Young University’s Computer Science Department, what intrigues him most is exploring how computers can learn to think creatively – designing artificial intelligence systems that are robust and adaptable. He and his students designed D.A.R.C.I., Digital Artist Communicating Intention, a system to produce original images inspired by pictures it is shown. Although DARCI is in its infancy, Dan believes that, “some of the things it’s doing, in a nascent way, could be argued to be creative. That's our goal and it's a hard goal to hit because people can't agree what ‘creative’ means.”

For Dan, creativity is a process — a set of steps and problem solving skills — that is similar regardless of medium, “whether it's dancing or music or computer science or cooking or anything else, I think there's this core piece of it that's the same.”

To him, the most creative part of computer science is looking at problems that need to be solved and figuring out how to formalize them and abstract them — basically deciphering the steps and turning them into a language a computer can understand. “To me it seems like I’m just trying to push the boundaries a little bit,” he says. “Solving problems is fun and getting computers to do stuff that people think they can't and surprising them, that's fun.”

Producer and Editor

Nancy Green