Creativity… it’s the cornerstone success in any human society, especially one where technological development is critical, and designing the “new” is requisite for advancement in any field.
A couple weeks ago, MIT Technology Review published this lost article on creativity by the late, great Isaac Asimov.
The genesis of this outstanding article was the the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, under the aegis of a contract going by the acronym GLIPAR (Guide Line Identification Program for Antimissile Research). “The government recognized that no matter how much was spent on improving and expanding current technology, it would remain inadequate. They wanted us and a few other contractors to think ‘out of the box.'”
It was suggested that Isaac Asimov “would be an appropriate person to participate. He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings. He eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input. This essay was never published or used beyond our small group.”
This essay “describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.”
How do people get new ideas?
Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.
One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.
But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.
Continue reading Asimov on Creativity