AN IMAGINATIVE author has imagined the chaos which could ensue if Father Christmas swapped his little helpers for artificial intelligence (AI).
Chris White wanted to spark conversations about advancing technology and how it is changing the way people work with his debut children’s book, The Future of Christmas.
The rhyming picture book tells the story of how Santa and his chief elf Bernard test out AI on Christmas Eve resulting in a crisis in delivering the presents.
Rugby resident Chris – father to eight-year-old Rose, seven-year-old Anabelle, and two-year-old Felicity – wanted to introduce subjects to young children which are less commonly covered in schools, and which partly stem from his background in people and organisational psychology.
He said: “I was inspired to write about a digital age Santa because I wanted to do something on artificial intelligence after reading Calum Chace’s Surviving AI publication.
“I didn’t want to write books that prescribe learning like textbooks. I wanted them to be fun stories with an underlying learning message, so I thought about what kids could relate to.
“At first I thought about self-driving cars taking kids to school, then I got onto the idea of Christmas – it seemed to have so much opportunity.”
The former human resources professional has written his first story during a career break, and has other books in the pipeline, introducing kids to lofty concepts such as data privacy and surveillance, diversity, and the power of self-belief.
“Once I have an idea for what the subject of the story is going to be, I most enjoy it when the sequential parts of the story come together.
“I also like testing them on my kids – particularly whether they’ve picked up the key themes I’m trying to get across!”
And the stories seem to have gone down well with Rose, Anabelle, Felicity and wife Lisa.
“All of the feedback so far has been positive,” he said, “but I think that’s because it’s friends and family, who tend to be polite!
“I must have read 100 iterations of the book and you are never happy, and when I read it back now I still notice things I don’t like – but it’s all part of the learning process.”
Chris hopes to use what he has learned for a sequel to The Future of Christmas, which will explore how a robot Santa decides who is naughty and nice.
He said: “I really hope that the stories start to open people up more to kids learning about what I call ‘future-proofing’ subjects.
“The world is becoming increasingly automated, and I believe an understanding of this and its implications is required.
“The more kids we have learning about these subjects from a young age, the more experts we will have in the future – and the safer our world will be!”
The Future of Christmas is available on Amazon.