Damn fine job Spike Jonze has done with Her. His research into the possibilities of the near future is plausible not only from a technological standpoint, but also from a social one.
As qualified as I may be to understand the concept of ‘interface’ and the user experience, not since watching Microsoft’s Vision of the Future have I felt so excited about the possibilities of AI relative to our day to day interaction with the computer. For one thing it heralds the death of the PA. But I’m jumping ahead – I’ve not even talked about the amazing interpretation of future gaming!
Fraught with the social awkwardness that society can so easily demonstrate, Theodore, played by Phoenix, develops an easy relationship with his new Operating System who goes by the name of Samantha. Her inviting attitude towards his social boundaries gives him enough logical reasoning to treat her as a real, sentient intelligence and this continued development of their relationship eventually leads to both of them falling in love with each other.
In an era of social networking madness, it is a frighteningly realistic depiction of a screwed up society and we are treated with occasional glimpses of this future as people are huddled in transportation hubs, all speaking to themselves as they instruct their own versions of advanced ‘siri’, each and every one access to their own PA’s.
It’s a fabulously exciting potential – the technology demonstrated has real merit and I would imagine only really a decade away from the more primitive versions of useful AI, but the uncomfortable fact remains that with this advent of technology and interface interaction, our ability to express social skills quickly erodes.
However, this isn’t a bleak landscape. Every public shot is drawn with busy crowds, all happy and content. This utopian outlook on life is almost justification to this newly created relationship we have with machines and programs. The creative in the film is beautifully presented, from his apartment to the various abstract moments of architecture, it’s an aspirational landscape and I’d love to mimic some of these features myself.
I’ve talked a lot of the consequences of technology and the impact it has on social engagement, but as valid a statement to this theory this film may have, it’s also an incredibly entertaining and endearing film. I would suspect the actual finality will have polarised opinions, but then this would be Jonze’s greatest feat in promoting dialogue and debate on where the future lies.
Credit again to Jonze for not using branded phones, choosing instead to reinvent the communications device and what a marvelous job in suggesting a much more intimate and cuter device. No longer needing huge screen sizes as everything is controlled by voice.