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(Interview) Singularity: the future of Big Data

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Chris Edgette has recently written and produced I’s, a feature film which explores a possible future of a Big Data-driven world.

Big Data being usually analyzed by experts and engineers, the movie brings forwards many aspects that go far beyond the technological point of view.

Here is the trailer to Chris’s movie:

We were lucky to get to sit down with Chris last week before his speech at The Hive’s Art and Big Data conference, where he presented his vision of our society’s many possible futures.

–          Can you please give us a brief description of your new movie?

The film is called I’s and it’s about the last 5 days before the singularity takes place. The idea of the technological singularity is that we make something that is more intelligent than we are, and that thing could make something even more intelligent than that, and it escalates exponentially. We have no idea what will happen on the other side.

It is not a disaster movie, because as much as it could be a disaster, it could also be a tremendous rebirth. We don’t know what will happen, so there is a mix of sadness and joy.

–          How did you become interested in Big Data, a topic which is still in its early stages of development?

There was a great Ted talk that was done, which ends with an MIT analysis of all television channels playing at the same time, and how they propagate through the internet, how that information transfers… I am interested in the way Big Data allows us to see things about ourselves that we never would have discovered without watching those connections and watching the data transfer.

–          What message are you trying to get across about Big Data through this movie?

The message is completely mixed: the beauty of technology is also the threat. If we make a leap like this, even if we end up being eradicated, we have created something miraculous, something greater than ourselves. Like a birth, it may be painful.

We don’t make any rulings, but instead try to be very objective. Different characters in the film express different opinions about what is going to happen, and what the singularity will mean.

–          What is your vision of artificial intelligence?

I think that it is different than what a lot of people think because you don’t just take fast processors and get intelligence. You need neural network based AI, for a start.  A lot of companies that now use face recognition, sound recognition etc. use that kind of artificial intelligence on a limited scale.  These are the kinds of applications that might eventually be able to blossom into consciousness.

There are lots of different paths that it could take. For example, there are artificial intelligences being created to do high frequency stock trading, which are essentially sociopathic- their only goal is to make money.  If that is what ends up surpassing us, that is a big concern. Ultimately, we don’t know what something smarter than us will think.

–          How do you envision society’s future through Big Data?

This film just represents one possible future. We’re at an indeterminate time period, and there are a whole variety of ways in which singularity could happen. There are also possibilities in which the singularity would not happen. For the purposes of the film, we set the timeframe relatively soon as a way to explore these ideas in relation to events that are happening now.

–          Do you believe that there are risks in taking such an enormous and technical subject, and simplifying the debate to appeal to a broader audience?

It’s a hard thing when engaging a film to decide how technical we will get, how much we will show. We have tried to create something that is accessible to people who don’t understand these topics coming into the film, but at the same time make it interesting to those who already do. I think there is already a huge audience of people who are interested in singularity, mixed reality, and the implication of things like google glass. These questions are now getting into the mainstream.

–          How have people reacted so far to this portrayal of technology in our societies?

People were concerned that we were showing technology as evil, which is really not our goal. I do not see Artificial Intelligence as something like Skynet, but as something much more brilliant.

To watch Chris’s speech at global_181486962, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YBAOJ_1lVA

For more information on I’s, visit the official website: http://is-movie.com, and official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/isthefilm

For more information on innovation in Big Data, please visit http://www.innovation-prime.com/

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