Formal theory of creativity, fun, and intrinsic motivation (1990-2010)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

467 Scopus citations


The simple, but general formal theory of fun and intrinsic motivation and creativity (19902010) is based on the concept of maximizing intrinsic reward for the active creation or discovery of novel, surprising patterns allowing for improved prediction or data compression. It generalizes the traditional field of active learning, and is related to old, but less formal ideas in aesthetics theory and developmental psychology. It has been argued that the theory explains many essential aspects of intelligence including autonomous development, science, art, music, and humor. This overview first describes theoretically optimal (but not necessarily practical) ways of implementing the basic computational principles on exploratory, intrinsically motivated agents or robots, encouraging them to provoke event sequences exhibiting previously unknown, but learnable algorithmic regularities. Emphasis is put on the importance of limited computational resources for online prediction and compression. Discrete and continuous time formulations are given. Previous practical, but nonoptimal implementations (1991, 1995, and 19972002) are reviewed, as well as several recent variants by others (20052010). A simplified typology addresses current confusion concerning the precise nature of intrinsic motivation. © 2010 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-247
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Formal theory of creativity, fun, and intrinsic motivation (1990-2010)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this