Imagine this: Creating new visual concepts by recombining familiar ones

Around two and a half thousand years ago a Mesopotamian trader gathered some clay, wood and reeds and changed humanity forever. Over time, their abacus would allow traders to keep track of goods and reconcile their finances, allowing economics to flourish.But that moment of inspiration also shines a light on another astonishing human ability: our ability to recombine existing concepts and imagine something entirely new. The unknown inventor would have had to think of the problem they wanted to solve, the contraption they could build and the raw materials they could gather to create it. Clay could be moulded into a tablet, a stick could be used to scratch the columns and reeds can act as counters. Each component was familiar and distinct, but put together in this new way, they formed something revolutionary.This idea of compositionality is at the core of human abilities such as creativity, imagination and language-based communication. Equipped with just a small number of familiar conceptual building blocks, we are able to create a vast number of new ones on the fly.Read More