Becoming Sentient

Lake, Auckland NZ 2015 (photo: Christian Espinoza)

Workplace automation, neural networks that can detect heart failure with 100% accuracy, and decision making bots. A decade ago, mentioning the word Skynet would intrigue and excite sci fi and Terminator fanatics, now in 2019 it is likely to leave a cold stare and a shiver inside.

Is it possible that we’re living at the cusp of a new age of cognition? From the dawn of time, humans have sought to explore and improve for the survival of our species. Perhaps an injection of computer power will elevate us into the next realm of our evolution… but I am not seeing androids just yet.

While computer algorithms are learning how to read inputs through repetitive sensory data and recognizing patterns in order to predict many possible outcomes, a large number of practical applications have not tapped into the logical next step: decision making computers.

Fast forward twenty years from now and we may see computers leading complex government projects, or creating university curriculum. They’ve already started to replace the role of the Photographer in studio. This is only the beginning.

In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

– Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator, 1991

Behind the Scenes

Shot on the set of Deathgasm, Auckland NZ (photo credit: Christian Espinoza)

Behind the scenes is where the magic happens.

My fragile eight year old mind was blown away when I first witnessed the T-1000 take a dozen bullets to the chest, only to regenerate, get back up, and see the cold lifeless expression on his face as he battles Arnold in what is possibly one of the greatest chase scenes ever filmed.

Or being a ten year old and actually jumping out of my cinema seat when Sir Richard Attenborough told Sam Neill and Laura Dern that he had a T-Rex, in the now infamous “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene. Never had there been special FX this stunningly real before, and so close to nature as when ILM created the dinosaurs for the epic Jurassic Park.

I was captivated by the raw human emotion brought to life by Woody and Buzz Lightyear, in the first fully CGI feature length movie Toy Story. My impressionable twelve year old brain just couldn’t compute the notion that the characters were not real because the magic was there in every inflection, every movement, and the script itself.

Every movie that you watch was made by a team of individuals just like you.

You won’t know your full potential unless you challenge yourself, so go out and help create something that the world has never seen.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

– Steve Jobs