Her. 2013 [R]
“Are these feelings really real, or are they just programming?”
For the sensible, this movie may prove disturbing. For the sociologist, technologist, and humanist, Her is intriguing, inspiring, captivating, insightful, and touching. The discussion of human and robot/AI relationships is not new, and is reflected in several works, of which Love + Sex With Robots, Alone Together, and Radical Evolution, are only a very small sample.
The quote that perhaps stood out to me the most is the one above, as philosophical and epistemological inquires of reality are perhaps some of humankind’s most perplexing and seductive areas of intrigue. What of consciousness, loneliness, relationships, and connection grounds our identities? What of touch, feeling, and sensing provides such aliveness and despair, often simultaneously? What is it about the soul of humanity which convenes such experiences and questions into gelatinous phenomena that is adherent when cold, yet nonconforming when warmed. You can nail jello to a wall, when frozen, and lifeless.
Regardless of its genesis or its host, feelings — this movie (and I) would argue — are quite real, and they make up the bulk of what it means to be human. The debates, I opine, will pervade on into eternity; those about biology and chemistry, artificial and natural, sentience and substance, and will ultimately prove powerless to provide adequate explanation. The debates themselves evidences transcendence.
The closing scene of the two friends in an affectionate touch leave the matter quite ambiguous and ought not be considered “proof” of AI’s invalidation. Rather, it is evidence that the emotional journeys they have been on — both with humans and AIs — are actually real, whatever “actually real” really means. 🙂