JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
AKSHAY MAHAJAN: People who knew me growing up would declare I was a pretty strange kid. I don’t ever remember being ambitious or particularly motivated. I was and still am very good at all sorts of procrastination. I did have some idle dreams. Elaborate daydreams one with no real world consequences. You obviously couldn’t grow up to be a Soviet sniper in the battle of Stalingrad. Perhaps, over time I did get very good at that sort of escapism. Photography for me is the physical manifestation of the cumulative daydreaming.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
AM: You’ve caught me at an interesting moment. I got back last night from my own wedding. It the longest period of time in my adult life where I have not thought about photography. I thought I’d leave my camera on my shoulder and not bring it to eye level (for a couple of weeks). I wouldn’t call it inspirational but a new experience all the same. Coming back to your question: I have been recently enamored by the ideas of journey. A re-living approach to life allows for me to better understand who I am and trespass the boundaries that I have set for myself. Perhaps in the tradition of the beat generation. A few months ago I traveled 1200 miles down the river Ganges from the Himalayas to the Bay Bengal and photographed my exploits in a newspaper sized zine HOLY WATERS/GANGES. In January this year I was in Hungary, in a Roma village in the eastern frontier, we drank plum rakia (a type of brandy) and toasted “to the long road” something the gypsies know a little about :) Journeys still inspire me.
JC: What are you up to right now?
AM: I’m sitting in my living room, my wife is rolling a joint, a common friend is over and we’re drinking whiskey. Making conversation without agenda. As a disclaimer to your kind readers, I must admit to be inebriated if not slightly. We’re streaming some songs off this lovely music blog Flea Market Funk.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
AM: I’ve lived my entire life in the far away outpost of photography that is India. Having no formal training in photography, I’ve always been an active seeker of mentor-ship. Sadly and rather frustratingly I’ve failed. The silver lining being my search for mentor-ship bore many collaborators. I met Kapil Das aka lenskap: on flickr years ago and we started a sort of loose collective called Blindboys in 2007. We started experimenting with public art installation in Indian cities using photography, we called our experiment BlowUP.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
AM: I moved to New Delhi 3 years ago. I had just finished working on an immersive long term documentary project called I don’t want to sleep alone. An Indian ballad of twenty something emotional and sexual dependencies: pictures representing the transgressions of young urban dwellers. I wanted a change of scenery and pace so I moved to Delhi. I have a beautiful life here but I must admit photographically I failed to engage with the city, something I hope to change.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
AM: If you make art the singular prism via which you view the world, then she will always share your bed.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
AM: I think its important to make dialogue with all the people around you. I think photographers tend to be very insular, in a sense they largely hang out with other photographers. What I’m saying - that being part of a creative community is not important but it is more important to be part of the right creative community. If you are part of a community for just the opportunities than you are there for the wrong reasons. The idea of a community is too share, talk, inspire and perhaps if you are lucky collaborate.
URX’s biggest strength is in the depth and range of experience that our team brings to the table. We aspire to be more than the sum of our parts, and understand that staying closely aligned to our guiding tenants is the the only way to make sure we stay focused as we continue to grow our team,…
Rock on John - great work on tenets from my friends at URX!
50. Because we live in Austin, Texas
49. Because the 40 Acres is a beautiful campus
48. Because you can study in this library
47. Because spotting this little fellow before a test is good luck
46. Because Chaps > Overalls
45. Because Hook ‘em!
There is much I have been musing about in the past decade of conscious memory and voids and gaps from the time past.
I’ll share infrequently here and hopefully, find focus and desire to continue actively.
AMAZING Read - Folks, heed the last walking away comment from Peter.
Here is an essay version of my class notes from the last class of CS183: Startup, class 19. Errors and omissions are mine.
The following three guests joined the class for a discussion:
- Sonia Arrison, tech analyst, author of 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity will Change Everything, and Associate Founder of Singularity University
- Michael Vassar, futurist and past President of the Singularity Institute for the study of Artificial Intelligence (SIAI)
- Dr. Aubrey de Grey, gerontology expert and Chief Science Officer at the SENS Foundation.
Credit for good stuff goes to them and Peter, who gave the closing remarks. I have tried to be accurate. But note that this is not an exact transcript.
Class 19 Notes Essay—Stagnation or Singularity?
Peter Thiel: Let’s start by having each of you outline your vision of what kinds of technological change we might see over the next 30 or 40 years.
Michael Vassar: It’s lot easier to talk about what the world will look like 30 years from now than 40 years from now. Thirty seems tractable. Today, we’ve gone from knowing how to sequence a gene or two to thousand-dollar whole genome sequencing. Paul Allen is running a $500 million experiment that seems to be going very well. This technological trajectory is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Suppose, after 30 years, we have a million times today’s computing power and achieve a hundred times today’s algorithmic efficiency. At that point we’d be in a place to simulate brains and such. And after that, anything goes.
But this kind of progress over the next 30 years is by no means something we can take for granted. Getting around bottlenecks—energy constraints, for example—is going to be hard. If we can do it, we’re at the very end. But I expect that there will be a lot of turmoil along the way.
Aubrey de Grey: We have a fair idea of what technology might be developed, but a much weaker idea of the timeline for development. It is possible that we are about 25 years away from escape velocity. But there are two caveats to this supposition: first, it is obviously subject to sufficient resources being deployed toward the technological development, and second, even then, it’s 50-50; we probably have a 50% chance of getting there. But there would seem to be at least a 10% chance of not getting there for another 100 years or so.
In a sense, none of this matters. The uncertainty of the timeline should not affect prioritization. We should be doing the same things regardless.