Spike Jonez’s film “Her” depicts the life of a man who is involved in a romantic relationship with a computer called AI. Jonez says of this film that he tried to limit the involvement of technology in the film because it is not a film about technology, it is a film about people.
I have never seen this movie but, before reading this particular article, I knew vaguely the plot line. I imagined it was something like the Disney Channel movie “smart house” that I saw on tv when I was a kid. The entire movie was about a family who won a chance to live in a technologically advanced home that could play whatever music the family wanted to listen to, could clean itself, could cook its own food, etc. The house was basically the antagonist in the movie, just as AI is a character in itself in her. However, this movie was very futuristic, all the technology that encompassed the characters’ lives was far more advanced than what we have today, unlike Her.
Smart house, like many other films about technology that take place in the future, are much more focused on featuring technological advancements as a main part of the movie. They create an almost unrecognizable world that is far from the world we lie in today as a sort of spectacle to entertain viewers. It’s a part of the phenomenon of the future that people enjoy seeing.
Her shows a world that is very recognizable to the one we live in today; with almost only the computer he shares a relationship with as evidence that it takes place in the future. In fact, technology other than AI takes even less of a presence in the film than it does in today’s time. Jonez strongly emphasized that Her is not a film about technology, “it’s about people”.
It seems to me that showing an advanced piece of technology being used as an emotional support system, such as in a romantic relationship, could be very effective in showing people how their reactions to technology might appear to someone in the past. By placing it in a world so similar to the one we presently live in, people see how peculiar this man’s relationship really is. In the same way they look at the main character in Her, they would look at people today who would claim to love objects. Placing it in the present provides a stronger commentary on human interaction with technology in today’s time by showing where it is headed.
A piece of technology we enjoy today that could be the basis for what will one day become AI is the apple device “Siri”. Siri responds to questions one may ask it by searching through data on the phone, so it’s really not quite there yet. David Milgram’s book “Siri & Me” is somewhat satirical of the way people treat their phones and how they use Siri and the idea is eerily similar to the film “Her”, though Siri is not at all as advanced in terms of emotional processes.