Mar 23, 2015

Her (2013) – A Film About the Coming End of Man

Her - the dystopian love(less) story.  Image:
Her – the dystopian love(less) story. Image:

By: Jay
Her is Spike Jonze’s 2013 dystopian love story starring Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, a lonely beta male stuck on a failed relationship from years prior, piddling away at a dismal tech job in a vacant megalopolis. In this distincly Apple-esque, 1970s future, Theodore spends his days writing personalized E-greeting cards for others in relationships. The irony is apparent, as the “personal” cards are written by someone else, highlighting the almost completely synthetic, virtual nature of this future. This is the dominant theme of the film, and it is for this reason the film is relevant.

While we are inundated with an overload of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction the last decade or so, all seem to have their own insights, and the insight of Her is no small matter. When we think of pop fiction like The Matrix, we were struck by the metaphysical ponderings of the nature of the world system in which we inhabit.

In a film like Mad Max, we were asked to ponder controlled resource wars and the “civility” of civilization itself. In a more recent example like the Hunger Games, we are presented with a decadent Capitol City that has subjugated the nation under a brutal, Agenda 21-style socialist state obsessed with gladiatorial games sacrificing the young for the bloodlust of mindless masses.

Yet with all these dystopian tales, we still have an important human factor still in tact – that of love. Neo loves Trinity, Max loves his dog and the lost kids in Thunderdome, and Katniss loves her boy crush. The reason Her becomes such a radically ominous dystopia is that Theodore loves no one. The entirety of Theodore’s utterly alienated and atomized life is enveloped in the synthetic, which comes to its apogee in his relationship with his iOS (Operating System), names Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen). Prepare to be legitimately creeped out in the midst of a rather slow film, because what I have written and warned about is now coming in Apple’s future version of Siri, known as “Viv.”

Techgenmag explains:
“Her was called a science fiction movie. But what it might actually be is a viable premonition.
An ultra-secret start-up called Viv Labs is working on the future of artificial intelligence. The founders, the same guys who developed Siri, are responding to common criticisms behind Apple’s first artificial assistant. For example, Siri can give you a list of the hottest restaurants downtown, but she can’t make a reservation for next Thursday night. She can also tell you the latest deals on Amazon, but she can’t place an order for a pair of headphones. Although Siri can recognize 2 and 2, she can’t put them together.
On the other hand, not only will Viv recognize disparate requests, she will also be able to put them together. Basically, Viv is Siri with the ability to learn.
Viv - preparatory stage before Sam(atha)?
Viv – preparatory stage before Sam(antha)?

The smartest guys in tech are working around the clock to make a personal assistant who can plan your calendar, send emails, and buy goods and services – everything, in short, that Samantha, the AI in Her, could do. Viv can also establish connections between commands, the very ability that Siri lacks, and perform tasks outside her programming, which currently Siri can’t. This suggests that future iPhones may be equipped with functional artificial intelligence. Machines that know our lives better than we do.
The project is being kept heavily under wraps, but the guys at Viv have hinted that they’re working towards creating a “global brain,” a shared source of artificial intelligence that’s as readily accessible as heat or electricity.  It’s unclear how soon a breakthrough of this magnitude can happen. But if this team made Siri, you can bet their next project is going to blow the tech world to pieces.”
“Viv” just garnered a 12 million dollar budget, we’re told, to develop an A.I. that teach itself – precisely Samantha’s functional capability in the film. The creators boast that Viv will more so be a personal assistant that can converse, in contrast to Siri’s very basic capabilities. I might add that Siri is a DARPA “CALO” creation, demonstrating what I have been detailing for a few years now, which is the crucial puzzle piece in understanding the global technological race is a largely a scam.

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