AJ Kohn, someone who focuses more on authorship and rich snippets than most SEOs I know, wrote a story named Authorship Is Dead, Long Live Authorship.
In that story, he describes why he thinks the classic Authorship Project is slowing being closed down. In short, he thinks that because classic authorship is opt in, it isn't easy to scale at the size Google needs. So Google uses other methods to extract authorship/rich snippet like data from sources to show the richer data in the search results.
He also notes that Othar Hansson, who worked in the authorship side of search has left to work on Android in the past six months.
Authorship then becomes about Google's ability to extract entities from documents, matching those entities to a corpus that contains descriptors of that entity (i.e. – social profiles, official page(s), subjects) and then measuring the activity around that entity....
...The presence of Authorship markup might increase the confidence level of the match but it will likely play a supporting and refining role instead of the defining role in the process.
So what he means is that what you see in the search results, the authorship display, is not dead. But maybe requiring webmasters to mark up their content and if they trust that markup, is dying.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Image credit to BigStockPhoto for author paper