cr: a modest attempt at enhancing creativity

Created: 23 Oct 2018 | Modified: 9 Jan 2019 | Importance: 6/10

Summary: cr is a tool that generates random associations between words stored in txt files.

I was surprised to fail at finding a tool that would generate random associations between my own concepts, not from some vague generic list. So I made a very simple program, called cr (here on Github). It takes a number of .txt files as input, each file containing a series of concepts, and generates random associations.

Here are, for instance, some possible outputs:

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4
attention
bayes
area
volitional philanthropy
evolution by replacement
false flag
by no means
r/k selection theory

(Those are the most publishable out of 6 executions, with my current concepts (Nov 2018)).

This page is an account of my experience with this method, particularly of the highest quality associations that have been generated.

First, what is a concept? The answer is simple once the purpose of this method is understood: anything that may stimulate your creativity as you wish is eligible.

To make things clearer, here is the beginning of my list (Nov 2018):

a posteriori
a priori
ability
abolitionism
about
absence
absurd
academia
academic research
acceleration
active recall
ad
add
admit
adrenaline
adult education
advocacy
aesthetics
affordable
agi
agility
agreableness
ai
ai risk
airbnb
airbus
airport
alcohol
alien
alien god

Current progress

I currently have two files: p.txt (60+ people, some famous, some I know personally) and c.txt (everything else, 1300+ concepts so far). I'm in the process of making the majority of these concepts accessible here.

Update 2018-11-09: After a few weeks, I've realized my concepts were too abstract to yield meaningful associations. So I'm now adding more concrete things such as objects or clever techniques.

Update 2018-12-27: I've almost stopped investing time in cr for a few weeks now. I still find the concept promising, but my priorities have changed.

How I had the idea

I have been interested in methods of learning from a relatively young age, which led me to Anki. At some point I read (from Robb Seaton) about using Anki for idea generation: by putting all cards in the same deck, the reviews should lead to collisions between unrelated topics and hopefully, new ideas.

However, the efficiency of the learning process with spaced repetition makes collisions quite rare. I've become frustrated with such a low density.

This and other things led me to this idea.

Now that I think about it, cr has other advantages over Anki:

Remarkable associations

Nothing really stands out so far.

Thoughts on this method