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Director Mike Cahill on how iris-scanning technology, Richard Dawkins, and a TED talk inspired his new film, I Origins.


Cahill based Pitt’s Ian Gray character loosely on scientist Richard Dawkins. “The scanning of the color part of your eye has been around since 1987 when he figured out the algorithm and it’s been a slow-growing technology over the years. Nowadays in New York City if a person is arrested they get their eye scanned, babies in hospitals get their eyes scanned, you can go through the fast lane at the airport if you do your iris scan.”

The filmmaker became further sold on the power of iris scans after checking out a TED Talk by Jeff Carter. “He talks about how fingerprints only give you so many degrees of accuracy, where as the patterns in your eyes form when you’re in your mother’s womb and stay the same for you for your entire life,” Cahill notes. “From a technological standpoint, it’s a great way to ID a person. And since the eye has also enticed poets since the dawn of civilization, it seemed like a wonderful meeting place for two of my greatest passions—science and spirituality.”

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