In the 1993 VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, mathematician, computer scientist, and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge delivered a speech titled “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era.” “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended,” Vinge prophesied at the beginning of his speech.

The concept of the “technological singularity” was first introduced in the 1950s by John von Neumann. Observing the historical trajectory of technological advancements, he pointed out the accelerating pace of their progress and theorized that humanity was approaching a pivotal moment that could transcend existing technologies and even human civilization itself. From the moon landing to recombinant DNA, from the advent of the internet to the deployment of GPS, the world witnessed rapid advancements in aerospace, biomedicine, computer technology, and telecommunications over the subsequent four decades. However, when Vinge cited the term “technological singularity” in 1993, he offered an interpretation distinct from von Neumann’s.

Vinge propounded that the key driving force behind the arrival of the technological singularity is not the human-driven technological advancements witnessed in the 20th century but superhuman intelligence—entities capable of autonomous design and improvement, propelling technological progress at an exponential rate. “When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems to be no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities—on a still-shorter time scale,” he continued. “The best analogy that I see is with the evolutionary past: animals can adapt to problems and make inventions, but often no faster than natural selection can do its work—the world acts as its own simulator in the case of natural selection. We humans have the ability to internalize the world and conduct ‘what ifs’ in our heads; we can solve many problems thousands of times faster than natural selection. Now, by creating the means to execute those simulations at much higher speeds, we are entering a regime radically different from our human past.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligence Amplification (IA), according to Vinge, are two approaches to achieving superhuman intelligence. While AI aims to create machines with human-like intelligence, IA focuses on enhancing human intelligence through better computer networks and human-computer interfaces. Though the idea of IA sounds more mundane than that of AI, he argued that both are important and mutually beneficial fields that can advance each other. Vinge then entertained several scenarios to help his audience picture the various forms of superhuman intelligence. For instance, “large computer networks (and their associated users) may ‘wake up’ as a superhumanly intelligent entity.” Or “computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent.”

“If the technological singularity can happen, it will,” Vinge mused with an air of melancholy despite his technological optimism. “Its coming is an inevitable consequence of humans’ natural competitiveness and the possibilities inherent in technology.” A celestial waltz spun but once in an epoch, or perhaps only graced upon time’s vast tapestry at intervals of millennia, the singularity might be cosmic rhythms that unfurl across eons so vast, they elude our mortal grasp. And yet, here and now, XANDER ZHOU SS24 & PRO collection “A.I.VOLUTION” is ready to pick up the thread that Vinge left us thirty years ago.

“I often see people as if in a frozen moment and they seem to have an internal
glow inside them. Their skin seems translucent, and they carry their own time. I feel
calm and distant and warm from this. It can happen in an instant. In very mundane
urban situations. You realize you are not looking at a single person, but at a sort of
stream or cascade… a continuity, a lovely genetic physical thread to other times,
both previous and ahead, and still unformed.”

Mark Fisher, “Electricity and Ghosts: Interview with John Foxx” (2006)

Through the mist and the glass-filtered haze, sunlight drapes the city in a hue almost ethereal. Is this the future? Devoid of neon glows in overblown saturation, the air seems to shimmer with strands of silver. At the XANDER ZHOU SS24 & PRO A.I.VOLUTION Intergalactic Expo, researchers, analysts, archivists, and investigators from various galaxies put on their specialized uniforms to access the exhibition area. Here, they closely observe humans, humanoids, and non-human entities, envisioning a future of harmonious multispecies coexistence.

Trans-species machine sapience, clad in knitwear and carrying briefcases, approach with an appearance indistinguishable from humans. Yet, at the base of their spine, they have evolved multi-jointed mechanical tails reminiscent of ancient reptiles. This anatomical feature aids in maintaining balance during rapid movements. The scales offer protection, reflect sunlight, and help regulate body temperature. These mechanical tail designs mark the debut of the XANDER ZHOU PRO series, a collection primarily focused on experimental research and development. The series delves into the symbiotic relationship between artificial intelligence and human creation, as well as the interplay between mechanical and manual craftsmanship.

The evolution of humans and intelligent entities might be evidence of divergent evolution, or perhaps a sample of convergent evolution. Regardless, through our demonstration at the A.I.VOLUTION exhibition area, special delegates from across the galaxies will discover that parallel evolution has been occurring around us. By virtue of traits so similar to humans, their very existence is hiding in plain sight. In this season, cross-species motifs are ubiquitous: the jacket’s six-petal collar adopts the structure of plant sepals, while the zipper’s degree of closure varies with the evolutionary progress; rivets used for assembling aircraft wings appear on uniforms, piecing together hopes for the future and aspirations towards a destination.

As a response to the mixed seasons and increasingly extreme climatic changes, the designer introduced garments of varying thicknesses and lengths within the same collection. From helmet visors to TPU footwear, clothing forms a movable space, serving both as a protective insulator and a transparent interface. How will the increasingly intimate human-machine interaction impact our sense of identity? Ribbed vests, shirts, and jackets appear in reverse order, conducting a self-examination through layered transparency before the advent of the technological singularity.