Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movie Review: Her

Last night my wife I went out to see the new Spike Jonze film, Her

Short review – the film is pretty great and you should go see it.

Longer review – The main focus on the film, which takes place in the future, but no too far in the future, is the relationship between a man named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and the new operating system on his computer (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In the world of Her, a new Operating System has just been released which included an intuitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) as its core. Theodore, who begins the film in a state of autopilot after a devastating divorce, purchases the system and begins a relationship with the program that quickly moves from friendship to love.

The film works both as a relationship story between Theodore and Samantha (the name the OS gives itself within moments of being uploaded) and as a pretty good idea of how humans and AIs may likely interact when they first meet. A lot of the concepts the movie brings up are examined positively in Ray Kurzweil’s 1999 nonfiction book, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, and negatively in Sherry Turkle’s 2011 nonfiction book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (also, the idea of a computer/human relationship was examined in the 1984 film Electric Dreams, but not quite as seriously as this – also the AI was created in that film by spilling Champagne across a computer, rather than through design). All in all the movie is about people and relationships, and in the end, that’s really the most important stuff to focus on.

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