If you suppose this is a story about artificial intelligence, suppose again! AI is the manifestation of the kinds of projections we’ve had going back millennia. It is the child’s wandering (and wondering) brain, and the suppositions all of us with half that brain make at least half of our semi-conscious time. Since delving into the AI labyrinth, I’ve supposed many scenarios of how the world might change. How concepts become real and thoughts become truth—at least artificial truth (i.e., imagination).
I was recently reminded of a kid’s book I loved when I was 10 years old, at the edge of childhood and the verge of pre-adolescence. I recalled how true to life this book titled Supposing (by poet and humorist Alastair Reid, illustrated by painter and satirist A. Birnbaum) captured the reality of imagination, vividly rendered with just a few clever prompts and simple bold brushstrokes.
Published in 1960, it is dedicated to the power of ideas and suggests that AI is as old as the brain itself—only now AI has been harnessed, somewhat, and no one really knows what the consequences will be. The original Supposing is long out of print (although it was not as successfully recently illustrated by Bob Gill and YooHee Yoon), so I’ve included a few early examples below. See how many prompts you suppose you’d conjure up today—and supposing they have AI applications, make your dreams come true.