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Picasso's Warning: A Modern Essay on Technology and Creativity

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. " (Pablo Picasso)

Explain what is meant by this statement. Argue to the contrary. What are the real limits of technology ?


The quote by Pablo Picasso indicates his disapproval of the computers as primarily those machines which cannot create anything new or unique and are thus always creating answers to hackneyed human questions akin to a mechanical machine or system.  Even though the statement might be true with regards to the limited presence of computers that existed at the time, but it needs to be critically analysed in light of the modern developments in computing technologies where technology has become a critical aspect of our daily life. Additionally, with the advent of artificial intelligence and smart devices, the concept of these devices as we understand them is in a state of flux and thus requires careful deliberations to arrive as a rational conclusion.

Picasso was right in the sense that computers are only machines which give a desired output to a particular input which is given by the user. Thus the onus on producing the output essentially depends upon the user. As a result, computers or technology primarily has limited creative aspect which is primarily the domain of human beings with technology functioning as an inferior computing aid.  Besides, the presence of technology to our aid actually adversely impacts our cognitive skills since we tend to become dependent on the computers and other technology enabled devices for those functions. This tends to limit our cognitive ability related with identifying the right question which needs to be considered along with the potential addictive nature of computers (Wolpert,  2009)

On the other hand, it needs to be considered that the technology has advanced and thus it does not limit itself to providing answers but is actually enhancing the creative aspect of human beings by allowing us to explore hitherto unexplored worlds. As technology brings us closer to these new worlds, whether it is in outer space or deep waters, it raises new and more complex questions with regards to our conventional understanding of the world. Further with the introduction of robots with enhanced levels of AI (Artificial Intelligence), technology is progressing to a stage where it may ask questions which probably humans have also not been able to consider. Besides, our interactions with technology over the last three decades have led us into an obsession with technology which in itself has raised a fundamental question with regards to our survival without technology (Thaipson, P. & Wannapiroon, 2015).

It can be concluded on the basis of the above discussion that Pablo’s quote may have been true in his time and era when the role and reach of the computers was limited. However, in the modern age, technology and computers have become ubiquitous and thus opening up new possibilities for mankind which is enhancing our creative vision along with understanding of life and nature. In the future, it may be expected that with higher penetration of artificial intelligence, this role of technology is bound to increase. As a result, probably one day it may so happen that computers are the ones that would asking questions and we would be the one who would be answering them.

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