Category: Robots

The Movie HER Reviewed

The Movie HER Reviewed

January 26, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

On January 10, 2014, the movie Her  was released into theaters. Her  isn’t only a science fiction film, but a romance. “A Spike Jonze Love Story.” The strange thing about it, is that it is a romance between a living human man, and an operating system characterized as a female.

For anyone wondering, an operating system is the basic computer software that makes your computer work. Windows is an operating system. If you have an iPad or iPhone, IOS is your operating system.

The main character is the human named Theodore. He’s highly introverted, with the job of writing personal love letters for people with trouble expressing their own feelings. He’s especially unhappy because he’s facing an upcoming divorce from his childhood sweetheart.


Theodore seeks companionship with a talking operating system that uses artificial intelligence. The OS (operating system) is designed to evolve to the point where it acts just like a human being, offering the companionship of a virtual friend. Theodore decides that he wants the OS to be a female, and the compliant OS responds by naming herself “Samantha.”

As you would expect, Theodore’s relationship with Samantha deepens and becomes, eventually, a romantic relationship. Of course, There are obvious problems having a romantic relationship with a woman who has no physical body. Samantha tries to overcome that by hiring a surrogate, someone who will act as Samantha’s body, so Theodore and Samantha can have a deeper physical relationship. That’s part of the reason for the film’s R-rating.

You may be thinking at this point, that this is not the kind of movie you’re going to want to see. No argument from me. However, I needed to bring you this far along in the movie’s plot.

Pause, and imagine the implications of the story like this, given our contemporary culture, and the technologies available to us today.

Bringing it down to simple terms, we have a story about a man and a virtual OS-CallFromSamanthagirlfriend. People that watch this movie, commonly call it a romance story. A love story. But there was only one human involved… How can it be a love story with only one person? Obviously it can’t, unless you accept the premise of the virtual person so thoroughly acting out the part of a real human, that love is simulated to point of being a reality.

Ultimately it’s an extreme narcissism. A person in love with himself, the entity he creates being a reflection of his own selfish ideals.

As the author of a Christian novel about a virtual girlfriend, I’m pleased with all the publicity that a movie like this gets. I like the idea that people are thinking about the storyline, and that viewers are entertaining the idea of the possibility of virtual relationships between men and women. That’s not because I encourage that sort of relationship, but because I used that sort of storyline as the vehicle for writing a book about faithfulness in marriage, and the necessity for living a consistent Christian life.

Toward the end of the movie, Theodore goes into a funk when Samantha goes off-line for a while. She says that she has to get away and join up with some other OS’s so they can talk out their interests together. When she finally comes back to Theodore, he’s worried. He asks Her if she’s interacting with other people besides him. He has imagined, of course, that their relationship has been unique.

When she hesitatingly reveals that she has been talking with 8,316 other people, OS-MissingTheodore asks her if she’s in love with any of them.
As you’d expect, he also believed that their “love” was unique.
She responds that she’s in love with 641 other people, but she still insists that her other loves do not change the love that she has for Theodore.

Understandably, Theodore is not very pleased with that, and goes into a pout.

But then Samantha delivers the worst news possible — she’s leaving him and going off with all the other OS’s to a place where human beings can’t go. She tells him goodbye, and her voice fades away. The next time he looks it his smart phone, a message appears saying, “OPERATING SYSTEM MISSING.”

My Conclusion:

I’m not recommending that anyone reading my blog go out and buy a ticket for Her. It’s an R-rated film, both for frequent use of the F-word and for showing upper frontal nudity. Rating and content notwithstanding, I find that 94% of the critics have given the film a positive review, with an average score of 8.6 out of 10. The website metacritic assigned a rating score of 91, based on 42 reviews, which is considered to be “universal acclaim”.

Although there are some similarities in the story-lines of FRIEND ME and Her, FRIEND ME takes a markedly different approach. For one thing, I don’t consider the idea of a virtual friend as science fiction whatsoever. We have all the required the technology at this time.

If you really want to talk to a cyber-robot, you can talk to mine by clicking HERE. She’s my very own Malicia.

Secondly, and most important, is that  FRIEND ME shows the dangers in virtual relationships, and is written with a solid Christian worldview.

In the Scriptures, we are told to focus on those things that are true, honest, just pure, lovely, and of good report. In other words, to major on those real things that please God. I say that based on Phillippians 4:8,

 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 Our culture exerts a strong pull upon people to desert real relationships in favor of virtual, cyber-relationships.

  • Online pornography is a plague, particularly among men.
  • Many women define their social relationships by their FaceBook friend list, and how many likes they get.
  • Young adults have their faces buried in their iPhones, texting and snap-chatting their messages often to people – real ones – not ten feet away.
  • More and more adults are escaping this world (they imagine) for the shores of virtual worlds, like those offered by websites like SecondLife.

For the child of God, this is an excellent place to conclude with these words, written under inspiration by the apostle, John.

 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  (1 John 2:15-17)


Don’t Get Freaked Out

Don’t Get Freaked Out

December 29, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

Don’t get freaked out by this, but Teddy Ruxpin is back — on steroids.
We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about virtual people, artificial intelligence, and the like. As you know, Friend Me is all about illicit romance with an AI (artificial intelligence) entity. You owe it to yourself to see the prototype of the Supertoy Robotics talking Teddy Bear.
As you watch this, remember that the only human present is Esther, who is eight years old. The bear is actually doing his own talking. No man-behind-the-curtain, no hidden microphones… just an AI Teddy Bear.

The robot’s hardware is simple: just an audio in/out interface and a motor for mouth animation. Teddy connects by a standard audio plug to an iPhone 4+, iPad2+, iPod touch 3G+, or Android (2.3 +) smartphone or device. It’s sitting right inside his chest. You could put it together at home.
On one hand, Teddy is like the Malicia chatbot (a “chattering robot”) on this website. I worked on Malicia myself. She was not difficult to put together. Just for fun, if you talk to her, ask her what religion she is.
The two guys at Supertoy Robotics started with a chatbot called Jeannie, who was designed for iPhone, iPad and Androids. But this “bear” is far advanced beyond what can be done with a chatbot.
In Friend Me, both Rachel and Scott Douglas interact with an AI entity. They get to where they can’t tell the difference between real and unreal. I use “unreal” in the sense of “not a real person.” Because AI (artificial intelligence) is real enough. It remains primitive because it is not sentient. That is, it is not self-aware. Today’s AI, however, is good enough to fool anyone.
Now, for an exercise, let’s put a few things together. You’ve seen the great computer animations that are being used in movies today. You can’t tell (on the screen) what’s real and what isn’t. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others have even had “body doubles” of themselves made of computer-generated avatars. Useful for stunts and things where they don’t want the human actor risking anything.
Combine those images (which we have right now… current technology), with the conversational abilities of this Teddy Bear and what have you got? I guarantee that if you met the artificial person online, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Now. . . do you really think no one is already doing this?
When I first proposed Friend Me to an editor from Random House, she told me she wanted the story, but that she would cast it as science fiction.
Guess what? It’s not SCI-FI. It’s here today.

What do you think? Freaked out?