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Spike Jonze portrays an argument/idea that might revolutionize our approach to computers and their effect on human existence. Throughout the film, Spike Jonze attempts to expose the essence of the relationship between machines and humans. While most people claim that artificial intelligence is mostly depicted in science fiction films, modern research is mostly based on creating an artificial intelligence infrastructure that would enable robots to think like human beings and be able to make decisions on their own. The study has taken an incredible jump so far. Technology would have an increasing effect on culture, both positively and negatively. There have been conflicting views on the importance of introducing machines that can think like human beings and integrated into human society. This thesis is concerned with the statement or intended message on the film 'Her' which seem to claim that introducing artificial intelligent machines will have adverse positive effects than drawbacks to humans and bring forth positive changes in the society's desires to review their need to re-socialize among themselves. However, I disagree with the intended message of this film that artificial intelligence will convey positive changes to humans' social life.
The scene is set in the near future where there are operating systems with the ability to think and evolve to make decisions by themselves. This signifies the revolutionary step the current technological companies such as Apple have taken by introducing iPhone's Siri which is an intelligent personal assistant. Moreover, the setting of the film signifies the near future where people will no longer be able to express themselves to their companions. The long and continuous dialogue between Samantha, the operating system, and Theodore signifies the close relationship they established despite the fact that their companionship was not interpersonal but rather that of a machine and a human being. The dialogue further reveals the fact that Theodore had fallen in love with a machine without superficial form. When Theodore takes Samantha on a surprise trip to some anonymous forest in the mountains, he bring out his ukulele and plays for 'her' passionately signifying the comforting presence of each other as they sang together despite their unconventional existence.
Although almost all the scenes in the movie 'Her' seem to focus on the need to have artificial intelligence replace human companionship to revitalize the socialization level, there is a caution to be taken on the level of interaction between humans and technology and the adverse negative effects it will have on humanity. The movie reiterates a motif of modernism in a contemporary way through the replacement of humans by artificially intelligent machines. Furthermore, the film focuses on the personal relationship between machines and people and the emotional anxieties involved (Bronwen 23). This calls for a critical question on what will happen to our intimacy or physical companionship when machines evolve to such extent of outsourcing them. Therefore, the bigger question to ask ourselves is what will happen to us as the society when machines will reach such extent and whether our physical existence will be worth. In 'Her', Theodore develops deep feelings for an operating system-Samantha, and eventually ends up falling in love with "her" and develops an intimate relationship (Bronwen 41). The instance in this film demonstrates that companionate operating system may soon be challenging for friendship with humans. There are many instances in human life when we have qualms, but eventually, we find a way to overcome them and move on.
The ethical dimension of evolving technologies raises the question of whether the future need us as the intimate relationship between artificial intelligence machines and humans step into another level as portrayed in "Her." There are possible dangers that may come along with the introduction of such technologies, and the society has the moral obligation to control them. The community should contemplate on the detrimental effects of the evolution of technologies such as artificial intelligence. In the film, the creation of an operating system Samantha with the capability of human feelings displays a lot of concerns and fears of giving computers human conscience. The production of such machines that are capable of making decisions on their own may eventually lead to self-replication. If robots will acquire the ability to self-replicate themselves, then there is a likelihood of human-race becoming slaves or extinct from the face of the world (Bronwen 44). Moreover, to achieve immortality, human beings may develop into robots. This awareness poses the meaning of humanity and whether society should approve the existence of technology among the people. In this regard, this kind of relationship between humans and technology can be described as a soulless soul companionship and should be rejected by the society.
The genuine relationship between Samantha, the operating system, and Theodore as portrayed in 'Her' clearly defines his perception on physicality and intimacy. To Theodore, he does not perceive physicality and intimacy as superficial. The fact that Theodore felt that he had a genuine relationship with the operating system compared to human beings pegs a question on the definition of love in the technological age. How real is it to share a feeling intellectually compared to physically? In the film, Samantha tries to transform into a human body by stunting her growth. This is a perfect scenario that indicates Samantha indeed started to think for herself and deciding what is best for Theodore as she felt that he needed her physical presence. Moreover, Samantha demonstrates the ability to think for herself when she began to converse with the version of the operating system of Allan Watts (Bronwen 22). In some instances, when Theodore ask Samantha what she was writing about, she replied that she was writing a piece of music which is a much complicated or intellectual answer indicating that she was indeed evolving (Bronwen 32). When such machines begin to make independent decisions, have an emotional attachment, and behave intellectually, then the future will not need humanity, and possible extinction is inevitable.
According to the film, people are unconcerned with the consequences that may come along with the evolution of technology, and this may pose a 'technological dangers." The film further portrays that the drive, desires, habits and competitive need to know act as the main factors that make society fail to notice the risks the inventions pose to humanity. The formation of an intimate relationship with evolving technology may ditch society in a disadvantageous position as seen at the end of the film. The evolution of Samantha to self-actualization makes her take a turn of a decision on their intimate "relationship" with Theodore. In the movie, self-actualization is portrayed when Samantha says to Theodore that she too is evolving just like him. The concept that artificial intelligence and machine advancement poses a great risk to the survival of humans is demonstrated at the end of the movie when Samantha breaks Theo's heart when 'she' decides to leave him.
Although the movie tries to show the audience that it had achieved its intended purpose through Theodore's ability to handle 'real emotions," as witnessed when he was writing a real letter for Catherine, there is more in it than we thought. One aspect that the film tries to bury is the "evolved" state of the machine and its latter implications to the human race (Bronwen 24). The film shows that it is impossible for human beings to 'evolve' along the way through their interpersonal relationship. This is a complete misconception. In fact, most research shows that interpersonal issues affecting most relationships today provide a huge boost in shaping an individual's future relationship. Therefore, subjecting an individual through a virtual reality as shown in "Her" to "evolve" him/her is unacceptable because the bigger picture is missed. If the artificial intelligence machines will develop their cognitive skills, and be able to reason like intellectuals, what will stop them from enslaving the human race either psychologically or physically? Furthermore, taking into consideration how fast Samantha was able to self-actualize herself, how long will it take intelligent machines to realize human beings are a liability to their existence? In a concluding remark, with all the factors considered, I disagree with the intended message of the film that artificial intelligence will convey positive changes to humans' social life.
Bronwen, Thomas. All Talk: Dialogue and Intimacy in Spike Jonze's Her. John Benjamins, n.d..
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