Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie review: "Her"

"Her" deals with possible future situations in which computers are so developed that people have satisfying, fully-committed relationships with them. I think that the premise of the film is intriguing, and I found that the first half of the movie, in which the relationship is less serious, was believable. I had a hard time believing in the depth of the relationship as it developed over the second half. The world as depicted in the movie seems almost current and I didn't believe that such a complex relationship with a computer was possible right now or in the next 25 years. Yes, the computer (Scarlett Johansson) is very smart and obviously scientists in the future, according to this movie, are able to program computers so well, that people engage in relationships with computers. I just found the depiction of this relationship to be implausible and I couldn't believe in the realization of such a film, at least not at this time. Perhaps I don't want to imagine the sort of loneliness that could propel Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) into a relationship with his computer. I suppose these sorts of relationships will be plausible, perhaps within 50 years. Obviously people have Siri on their iPhones and some robots are able to fulfill specific needs in peoples' lives. People value their electronic devices and I don't exclude myself from that group. I just don't like the idea of them as intimate partners. It's a development that doesn't sit well with me. The notion of the autonomy of a computer which understands you enough to submit your writing as a book proposal is disturbing to me. I found the idea of not having any sort of image of the partner disturbing also. The idea of going on picnics with another couple and having your computer girlfriend's voice piped in via the ear feed which practically implants her in your head, is also disturbing to me. Fortunately, I think we're quite a way from this occurring. I think that we will continue to allow computers into our lives more, but giving computers a lot of emotional depth to connect to the arbitrariness and complexities of humans seems a long way away. The premise is fascinating and the idea is intriguing. However, as someone who thinks that in spite of the promise and capacities of computers, there is no replacement for relationship with another human, I am profoundly depressed by this film. I never see the genie being put back in the bottle. Our electronic devices are more intrusive and more indistinguishable from the people who have the technology. The immersion continues apace with this film and it's certainly not a trend I like. Perhaps this movie is prescient, but I hope not.

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