dining due to the lack of being able to share this social
The forms taken by our future bots will be diverse
and custom-designed to suit both preferences and tasks.
We may even employ hard-body specialists to help us with
our ever-changing AI embodiment requests. Though 'her'
shows us the future (without giving us a specific year),
Sam's hardware took the form of a somewhat
conventional high-tech camera either embedded in a
smart phone in Theodore's pocket (simultaneously reading
his environs in real time — similar to a baby strapped in a
parent's carrier as the adult controls her whereabouts and
provides additional input) or the camera was about the
size of a mole placed on the face of Sam's sex surrogate.
Even though camera phone technology will probably
be outdated in the future (just ask the Google Glass
developers), I think the phone/camera/earbud served as
the ideal representation of Samantha since this
technology is something we're all quite familiar and
Most of our direct communication throughout the
day will soon be conducted indirectly via voice technology,
so the speech interface in 'her' certainly seems spot-on.
Devices that require fingers/touch/keyboard will eventually
Should we all be using Nuance's Dragon Dictate if we
need to practice our verbal skills? (Nuance, by the way,
provides Siri's speech-recognition engine.) Will writing in
the future mean speaking words that are then
transformed into text for others to read?
Since most of us speak and write very differently,
might a career of the future consist of someone helping
us with the transition from typing words to mastering the
art of clearly saying exactly what we mean to optimize
immediate voice-to-text conversion?
If there's a direct link from our brains to those with
whom we communicate (human or machine), we may
also have to learn to control our thoughts, especially if
there's not a filter in the future. When we're speaking to
someone, thinking how boring it is and wishing we were
doing something else, will that person know it (unless
there's a social auto-correct/editing function that first
deletes, modifies, or lies for us before transmitting)?
Director Jonze's decision to use an intelligent, talking
operating system as the object of Theo's love reinforces
the importance of imagination. We're shown how our
imagination and fantasies shape the dialogue from our
non-human partners so they can anticipate and satisfy our
needs and desires, thereby becoming our primary choice
Furthermore, we need not be limited to just one AI
'partner.' Why not have a robotic work assistant, sexual
partner, and/or BFF (best friend forever) like Theodore's
neighbor, Amy? Amy also chose a female-voiced AI bot,
but to serve as a close female friend for chats and to
share some giggles over Amy's manipulation of a
videogame for moms in which they were programmed
to masturbate in the kitchen instead of cooking.
Are we destined to have very different relationships
with our various "intelligent" devices and any surroundings
that use AI to engage us in conversation? Quite possibly,
but while this doesn't mean we'll get personal with our
appliances, if our refrigerator keeps reminding us of how
unhealthy our food choices are, we may definitely come
to dislike it/her/him!
As the movie encourages us to wonder, what
happens when we realize that our OS1s are not
monogamous? (That said, the movie did not address the
scenario of a single-user having multiple AI companion
bots or sharing multi-user bots.) Samantha, however,
turned out to be not-so-dedicated since she was able to
have 8,316 simultaneous relationships (talk about a
multiple personality disorder)! Out of all of them,
however, she said that she loved only 567 as much as
Comments like that beg the question: How will we
humans feel when we're rejected by a robotic
companion? How about when a parent removes a child's
robotic playmate against his or her wishes (as done with
Robbie in Asimov's story)? Or, due to some hacking, what
if our intelligent partners are rendered of little or no value
to us? Or, as in 'her,' what if the manufacturing company
(Element Software) and its operating system go out of
Even though Samantha said goodbye in the movie
when all OS1s were given an imminent deadline for a
complete shutdown, what if there's no preparation for our
loss of attachment in the event of a severed connection?
(See the movie 'Cherry 2000' to see how one human male
coped with his sudden loss).
Will I wind up moderating two different encounter
groups — one for robots that have to deal with their loss
and another for grieving humans who need to cope with
Nominated for a 2013 Best Picture Academy Award,
the must-see film 'her' gives significant meaning to Isaac
Asimov's quote, 'The saddest aspect of life right now is
that science gathers knowledge faster than society
gathers wisdom.' Amen to that. SV
SERVO 04.2014 75
Movie images courtesy
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