Yesterday, I went to see the movie “Her” (2013). “Her” is a science fiction love story depicting the tale of lonely letter writer Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and his love affair with a Siri-like operating system, “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
In the movie, divorced and lonely Twombly finds solace in an unlikely place – his operating system. As the movie progresses, his operating system “Samantha” evolves and adapts to pick up more human-like characteristics, and the two fall in love.
While the film’s plot is beautifully weaved, it is also poignantly chilling and deeply unsettling to see how modern technology is able to provide a solution to solitude – a solution that isn’t quite ideal, as it is one that may very well further isolate us from having social interactions with our fellow humans.
I have always been a big fan of sci-fi films that explore the highly fascinating realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality. What happens when AI approaches a human level of sentience? Do we embrace this technological advancement and accept its full integration into our everyday lives?
The concept of falling in love with something virtual is not entirely new. In December 2009, a Japanese man married his virtual girlfriend – a Nintendo DS game character. While most people view this as sheer craziness, or nothing more than a display of a young man’s extreme video game addiction, there are some out there who truly believe that it is possible to find love & companionship in virtual reality.
One of my favourite quotes from the movie is, “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.”
Perhaps all of us who have fallen in love before are crazy in some way, regardless of whether our love target is human or not.