Reality Check: Can We Have a Creative LLM?

Reality Check: Can We Have a Creative LLM?

In the realm of goal-oriented dialogue systems, the pursuit of computational creativity is encumbered by inherent limitations, notably encapsulated in the Communicative-Creative Trade-off (Hämäläinen & Honkela, 2019). This concept highlights the delicate balance Large Language Models (LLMs) must maintain between fulfilling their communicative objectives (such as conveying specific information) and exercising creativity. The paper divides cooperative creativity into three distinct types: message creativity, contextual creativity, and communicative creativity.

Creative LLM and Message

Message Creativity focuses on the innovative expression within the constraints of the dialogue’s purpose. It explores the creative potential in both the denotation (literal meaning) and connotation (implied meaning) of messages, enabling systems to present information in novel or unexpected ways without deviating from their goal.

How could an LLM get the message through in a creative fashion?

A concrete example of message creativity in the context of LLMs could involve a customer service chatbot designed to assist with product inquiries. Instead of responding with a standard, factual statement like Product X is available in blue, red and green, an LLM employing message creativity might say, Imagine the sky on a sunny day, a rose in full bloom, or the calm of a forest. That’s the palette of colors Product X comes to life in: sky blue, vibrant red, and soothing green. This response not only provides the necessary information but does so in a creative, evocative manner that enhances the user’s engagement and experience, demonstrating the LLM’s ability to apply creativity within its messaging.

Contextually Creative LLM

Contextual Creativity underscores the importance of adapting to the conversational context, tailoring responses based on the user’s history, preferences, or the ongoing dialogue’s dynamics. This adaptation allows for a more personalized and engaging interaction, fostering a deeper connection and understanding between the user and the system.

An LLM can adapt to the context

A concrete example of contextual creativity with LLMs involves a recipe assistant chatbot. Suppose a user mentions they are vegan and looking for a dessert recipe. Recognizing the user’s dietary preference and the context of the request, the LLM creatively adapts its response by suggesting, How about a chocolate avocado mousse? It’s a creamy delight that marries the richness of chocolate with the smoothness of avocado, ensuring you don’t miss a thing from the traditional recipe. This response demonstrates the LLM’s ability to tailor creative solutions that respect and enhance the user’s specific context and preferences.

Creative LLM and Communication

Communicative Creativity involves the strategic choice of communication styles, techniques, and protocols to enhance the interaction’s effectiveness. This might include selecting the most appropriate speech acts, adjusting the level of formality, or innovatively deviating from conversational maxims to provoke thought or clarify a point.

Creativity can also mean a new communication strategy

A concrete example of communicative creativity with LLMs could be a travel planning chatbot that, upon noticing a user’s hesitation or confusion about choosing a travel destination, adopts a game-like approach: Let’s play a quick game of destination roulette! Tell me your dream vacation mood, and I’ll spin the wheel of destinations to find your perfect match. This approach creatively engages the user, making the decision process more interactive and fun, demonstrating the LLM’s ability to innovate in its communication strategy to enhance user engagement and decision-making.

Further considerations

From the perspective of Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-4 (ChatGPT) or PaLM (Bard/Gemini) these concepts present both challenges and opportunities. LLMs excel in generating contextually relevant, coherent text based on vast amounts of training data. However, the creative aspect — especially in goal-oriented systems — necessitates a nuanced understanding of the user’s intent, the conversational context, and the specific objectives of the dialogue. LLMs must navigate the fine line between being predictably informative and engagingly creative, often within the constraints of predefined goals or tasks.

This balance is critical in applications where the dialogue system aims to not just inform but also engage, persuade, or entertain. For instance, in educational bots, customer service agents, or interactive storytelling, the system’s ability to creatively adapt its messages and responses can significantly enhance user experience. Yet, ensuring that this creativity does not compromise the clarity or accuracy of information remains a paramount concern.

Finding a balance between creativity and communication is crucial

As LLMs continue to evolve, integrating more sophisticated mechanisms for understanding and generating creative content within specific contextual boundaries will be key. This advancement will likely involve deeper integration of user feedback, adaptive learning techniques, and advanced models of conversational context and user intent. The ultimate goal is to create dialogue systems that are not only efficient and effective communicators but also engaging and creative companions, capable of enriching interactions with a human-like flair for creativity within the framework of their designated goals.


Mika Hämäläinen and Timo Honkela. 2019. Co-Operation as an Asymmetric Form of Human-Computer Creativity. Case: Peace Machine. In Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI, pages 42–50, Florence, Italy. Association for Computational Linguistics.