While algorithms are characterized by finite amounts of information, creative systems develop over time, incorporating new information. An algorithm always stays the same, but having a memory means that a creative system grows bit by bit. Although the calculations going on in a system described by an algorithm are processes in time, such a system does not have any historical development, so in the long term, on some level of abstraction, it can be described as a timeless system because after a calculation, they come back to the same state they had before.
An algorithm (I am using the term here as a synonym to “Turing-machine”) describes a system with a fixed structure and fixed laws of operation. It can be described by a formal theory. A creative system, on the other hand, can get out of the scope of description of any formal theory describing it.
A learning system can incorporate information from the environment. This information can then influence information encountered later. By incorporating new information, i.e. information not derivable from the information present before, the system is extending itself beyond the scope of the information it previously had. The limited amount of information contained in the system at a given time can be described in terms of a formal theory or algorithm, but this can be extended by new information from outside the system. As a result, the creative system develops, and it does so in time. Creativity and time are necessarily connected. A system that can be described entirely in terms of fixed laws does not have a history and can be described in a time-less way. A creative system, however, is existing in time.
Human beings have a memory, and not just the temporary working memory that an algorithm may use. They have a history, a biography, because their structure is changing. They are creative. They develop. So their life has a temporal dimension. Human beings can be viewed as creative systems in the sense described above, and this requires physical time. So time is a necessary precondition of the human existence. Perceived time is also an inevitable result of creativity in this sense. You cannot stop such a system from developing a sense of time although this “system time” is not identical with physical time.
As the system is developing, the world of entities it is living in changes. We can describe this as the ontology defined by the system. Each chunk of knowledge contained in the system is limited. We can view it as an analytical space. Analytical spaces have anomalies, i.e. the may encounter situations where the knowledge in them does not apply. They can then be extended by new additional knowledge. This may be viewed as the integration of new knowledge into an existing analytical space or as the creation of a new analytical space. While the knowledge contained inside an existing analytical space can be described as a (timeless) algorithm, the process of encountering new information (anomalies) is part of a creative process that leads to the generation of new knowledge by integrating the new information. While the application of an algorithm might be an automatic, unconscious process and is in that sense timeless, the creative process is a process in the history or biography of the system. It is a process in the “system time” or “subjective time” of the system.
Let us take an example. Let’s assume you are a skilled carpenter. You are putting nails in a board. You can do that automatically without much conscious thought. You might reflect this process (but that reflection is a different thought process not required for the nailing), but normally, you can do it without much thinking. You are then operation within the scope of an existing analytical space, a chunk of knowledge and skill that can be described as an algorithm.
Now you encounter an anomaly. There is a nail in the board, hammered into it from the other side, and you did not know that. Your nail hits that obstacle. Or your hammer breaks. Or you hit your thumb, because the motor knowledge in your analytical space of how to nail was still incomplete due to a lack of practice (mabe you are just an apprentice learning the craft). In such cases, you drop out of the automatic routine. New, unexpected information, unpredicted by the information contained inside your system of analytical spaces, has entered your perception. The obstacle is coming to your conscious attention. A memory is forming. You now perceive the hammer, the board, the nail, your hand, your thumb, and you perceive these things in time. Time, history, biography exists between the analytical spaces. If the new situation is being integrated into your system of analytical spaces, e.g. if your motor knowledge improves so you will no longer hit your thumb, it will become part of that knowledge-covered part of reality. It may become unconscious. You navigate the situation on auto-pilot and you might not remember much of it later.
Conscious concepts are only required in that creative mode, when processing the new, the anomaly with respect to previous knowledge. As long as you are in that “autopilot” mode, you can operate without a concept of a hammer, its handle, the nail etc. You could program a robot to hammer the nails into a board in terms of movements and touch sensors, or even visual sensors, without any explicit concept of a nail or a hammer. The need for a conceptual description arises when you encounter anomalies and have to find a way to deal with them. And only then do you need historical time, although the processes in the automatic state are also processes in time, if viewed from the outside, and go through several states.
Time, in the sense of consciously perceived time, sets in when we hit upon an anomaly (or, to stay with the example, upon our thumbs), in moments of amazement. In the history of animals, this might set in before we became human, but with becoming human, i.e. becoming animals (or people) for whom creativity was their central and defining property, time really becomes a central aspect of our being.
(The picture is from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-111130-M-LU513-038.jpg.)