Q&A with filmmaker Jason Silva as he preaches the philosophy of the Singularity

December 30, 2011

There are many futurists and techno-optimists in the world, but there is only one Jason Silva. The former host of Current TV, and fledgling documentary filmmaker is a force of personality and energy that is storming through the Singularity community. He recently spoke at this year’s Singularity Summit in New York, and is popping up all over the media world with appearances in the Economist, Smart Planet, and PSFK. Not quite 30, Silva is known for his combination of youthful exuberance, high-tempo visual style, and unapologetic delight in discussing the future. Silva is part Timothy Leary, part Ray Kurzweil, and part Neo from The Matrix.

The young philosopher also has an eye for finding mind-blowing visuals to help express the indescribable impact of accelerating technology. His upcoming film, Turning Into Gods, will interview the luminaries of today about the extreme possibilities of tomorrow. The documentary is still under production. In the meantime, working with media group NotThisBody, Silva has created several videos that explore the ideas of techno-optimism…

SH: There are many other futurists and techno-optimists out there, what do you hope to add to the discussion through your work?

JS: I have many heroes: Ray Kurzweil, Timothy Leary, Buckminster Fuller, Stewart Brand and more. These maverick men have worked hard to epiphanize minds and expand horizons. I just want a seat at the table. My opinion is that certain ideas are too big to fit inside their usual academic packaging. You need to give people other points of entry, other ways to engage with these ideas. Where is the ecstatic poet in all this? Who is talking about the visceral/existential implications of this radical progress? We need to make room for these philosophical ruminations, spaces to think out loud . I am confident that I am bringing a spirited and artful voice to the discussion. I love it when ideas have sex. I’m just trying to contribute to this space by sprinkling the ideas with aesthetic aphrodisiacs.

SH: Everyone has their own definition of The Singularity. To you, what is The Singularity, and what is it not?

JS: The Singularity is an epic metaphor: we all know the story, it’s a way to describe an event horizon, just within our reach, where technological progress will be so profound and our human/technology symbiosis so deep, that by all accounts it will birth a new chapter in human history, a new epoch in the cosmos. I find the ideas erotic, profound and intoxicating: exponential technological progress in biotechnology means reprogramming and upgrading our human wetware, much like we upgrade our imacs—It could mean curing cancer, disease, aging, the way we patch software problems. […]