Computing-Augmented Imagination

Rodrigo Tello


Computing as the act of working with information. From low-level computation, like basic math, counting, registering time, and storing and retrieving, to high-level computations like poetry, art, communities, new forms of governance and thinking about governance. Computing, not computers. Not programming, not coding, and absolutely not productivity nor convenience, but computing, is what makes computers fascinating. Networked communication too, as a result of computing. Marvin Minsky, co-founder of the AI laboratory at MIT and maybe the one who coined the term "artificial intelligence", used to say that computers already had their grammar and syntax with programming languages, and now what they needed is their poetry and literature.


Intelligence is something we have been deeply studied and, unsuccessfully tried to define and agreed upon. From IQ and EQ indexes, to dimensions of academic tests to test language and mathematical skills, we have multiple dimensions to measure. We have terms like mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, even emotional intelligence. However, imagination is a skill we don't have that much practice at measuring. Augmenting it brings a paradox on itself: how do we augment something that we don't know how to measure, nor we have units or dimensions? To augment any skill within the self, we should first recognize it, accept it, name it, onserve it, study it, and nurture it.


Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a primatologist at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, has done research on chimpanzees that shows how they can have human-like short term memory or even better, where they recognize and learn patterns almost in a flash. One conclusion that he takes out of this is that we, huamns, have sacrificed" short term memory in favor of long-term memory. On top of this idea, I've built that imagination was our actual initial evolutionary advantage. Other animals have languages and complex communication patterns, can build tools and architecture, or process certain streams of information from physical phenomena and their environment way faster than us. However, being the good generalists that we are, during evolution we've "sacrificed" what has led us.

I'm working towards computing-augmented imagination.