The word “technology” is often used exclusively to describe high-tech gadgets and innovations in the age of the Internet. While not incorrect, these understandings of technology are narrow in scope at best. Simply put, technology is anything that aids us in completing everyday tasks. Whether it be a MacBook Pro or a spoon, technological devices are quite literally all around us; Vanhemert is correct when he says that “technology shouldn’t feel like technology”. It is supposed to fit in seamlessly with out daily lives, a quality that Her very much delivers in an aesthetic sense.
I think the comparison of Her and Minority Report is interesting. The article alludes to the fact that the two films have vastly different visions of the future, which they do. However, I think that this is the case because the two are fundamentally different movies. Minority Report contains straight up supernatural elements throughout the plot. For crying out loud, the film revolves around three precognitive individuals that can predict who will commit a murder and when it will occur. Her, on the other hand, contains plot elements that are honestly not too far-fetched. The idea of super-advanced artificial intelligence seems like a fantasy but some smart people say otherwise. A phenomenon known as the technological singularity (a theoretical event in which artificial intelligence would become self aware a la Terminator) occurs in the film. Ray Kurzweil, a renowned author on the subjects of artificial intelligence and technology, predicts this event to occur in around as soon as 2045!
The role of technology in the two movies differs as well. In Minority Report, technological advances quite literally define the individual. It leads to classism and authoritarianism, as the technology in the film aids to incriminate individuals who are not even guilty of committing crimes yet; it treats humans as nothing but potential perpetrators and not agents of individual choice. In Her, technology serves as a way to make humans seem even more human. The movie’s protagonist, Theo, is a lonely individual who is able to know more about himself and his life through discourse with an OS. If anything, the portrayal of technology’s role in the film is ironic. Throughout the course of human history, technology has been utilized to do things that would be considered extra-human. That is, technology would serve as something supplementary that would allow humans to accomplish tasks that are normally not in the rational bounds of human achievement. Her takes this idea and flips it completely, specifically in the context of its portrayal of artificial intelligence. To Theo, the OS Samantha does not really serve as a device in his life that would help him accomplish an otherwise arduous or mundane task, but rather as a nearly-wholy human companion. In the real world, of course, the implications of such a relationship between man and machine would be odd and/or potentially devastating (“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”). Alas, Her is a work of fiction. Even so, its treatment of technology’s purpose sheds a lot of light on the extent to which advanced technology should exist in the realm of humanity.
Also, the film shows that artificial intelligence is scary as hell.
Exhibit A – Siri throws major shade at Her‘s Samantha: