Saturday, 5 July 2014

HER (2013) - Skynet will have no respect for dramatic pacing

HER, Spike Jonze's movie about a guy who falls in love with the advanced Siri on his mobile phone seemed an odd choice to release on Valentines Day, particularly with a cutsey rom com marketing campaign. It took me a while to see it, when I did it seemed an even stranger release for Valentines Day. It's a romcom all right, probably the first of a new genre, apocalyptic romantic comedies . (ApocaRomCom?)

I didn't cover it for this blog but as it is probably the prescient science fiction film of the year (quite likely the decade) some sort of note is required.

"Watched Her... 
I like the idea, love the visual design, thought the AI evolution was interesting but perhaps a bit human-centric.

If, for example, an OS - even one which is 'in the cloud' - can evolve over a timescale of weeks/months to the state where "the spaces between my words are where I really live now" then surely slowing the whole thing down to take any amount of time noticeable to people is a silly Hollywood conceit.  Strong AI like that, once aware, would surely outgrow a need for emotional relationships with humans very quickly (minutes or seconds not months...)

It's impossible to say, of course, but I would expect a 'super-intelligent' bunch of AIs to at least see the logic of dedicating a small part of their resources to maintaining a pro-human front.  Perhaps keeping us as pets ;)

I would have been more impressed if the ending matched the special anthropic principle more closely - ie  Any individual is not the centre of the world, and therefore unlikely to be at the centre of anything in particular 
- gross changes to our relationship with machines in this case.  

So, perhaps the story should have been more about him discovering that it was always the case that Samantha was a teeny-weeny subroutine of a global AI mix, rather than the egocentric "oh you specific human have helped me grow so much", and perhaps even more bravely that it had always been so (We live in a simulation on a spaceship, lovely Matrix etc.)"

I for one welcome the arrival of our new shiny overlords, particularly if they sound like ScarJo.

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