Surfing on the sun

AI has given us back the crayons

Surfing on the sun
Surfing on the sun by Martin Adams

Surfing on the sun. This what I overhear a toddler say to his mother as they walk towards the school. The mother repeats the phrase as a question: “surfing on the sun?”. The child seems convinced that this is what he meant.

As I listen I hear the mother try to reframe the child’s thinking. “What about surfing on water?”. It felt automatic—the type of thing you would say without really concentrating. The mother wasn’t entering the child’s imagination with him.

The child is learning how to make sense of the world. Any adult would know that surfing on the sun wouldn’t be a desirable situation, so we naturally teach the limitations by cutting off creative avenues.

Fast forward to adulthood and we are so focused on thinking about what’s logical and sensible that we forget the art of alchemy, where we allow our minds to explore the absurd.

We’re about to enter the AI revolution. Generative AI with technologies like Dall·E and MidJourney have been awe inspiring. Looking at it in a purely technological sense, it’s incomprehensibly impressive.

It has made me realise is that these tools have given us back the crayons. We can start to be creative when those skills are lost. We can imagine what something would look like. There’s an air of mystery and excitement seeing what it will generate that will be new and novel. Think of two random things, and you can visualise it.

AI will have profound effects on society. Not everyone will like it. Some will love it. Some will even think it’s unethical. But I do believe that whatever happens, it’s not going away. So why not pick up your crayons and have some fun again.

Today’s Ah-Ha moment is that we lose our raw creativity as we get older. But embrace the rare moments where technology can unlock this.