THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: REALLY COOL OR UTTERLY TERRIFYING?
My recent book “Fearless Genius” shows the brilliant innovators of the digital revolution in the 1980’s and 1990’s inventing the technology that created the world we live in today. That got me thinking about the future of technology development and what’s coming next which led to an incredible assignment from Vanity Fair, written by the brilliant Kurt Andersen here: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/11/artificial-intelligence-singularity-theory It was an amazing opportunity to shoot documentary portraits of leading proponents and skeptics of the singularity, who are having a crucial ethical debate about the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence.
The stakes are high and could affect human evolution or halt it completely. In the galleries above and below you can see Ray Kurzweil, now director of engineering at Google, who believes computers will gain consciousness by 2029 when a kind of singularity will occur and humans will transcend biology. With Peter Diamandis, creator of the X Prize, and others, they started Singularity University which I photographed as well, where innovators and entrepreneurs gather to learn about the latest and coming technologies. I also shot leading skeptics Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and now at Microsoft Research, Mitch Kapor, a PC software titan who leads several foundations working for social change.
Followers of the singuarlity believe a new wave of technology is coming fast that will bring major breakthroughs in health and longevity, among other benefits to mankind as we head toward the ultimate AI solution. Some proponents have suggested that when the singularity happens we’ll be able to achieve immortality by uploading our brains into a hive mind and leaving our bodies behind. Really cool, or utterly terrifying?