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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, you can find an archive list at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, January 16

Her


The question, really, is about love—what it is, what makes it a peculiarly human affliction. We went to see Her yesterday. I loved it, Rosalie hated it. She couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me why she hated it, just that it seemed so unlikely that someone could fall in love with a computer. Then she added, “But you seem to be in love with your computer, all the time you spend with it. So I guess that isn’t so farfetched.” But back to love and how it relates to Her. The story is set in a not-too-distant future in which Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) works in a place much like Hallmark, where he writes letters for people who hire him for that task. He sits all day in front of a computer, talking to it, having it write in the buyer’s handwriting, on individualized stationery, what the buyer, apparently, can’t say for himself, at least not as feelingly and beautifully as Theodore can. That’s pretty much what Hallmark cards now do. Her seems to be set in a time when there’s no more poverty and everyone walks around with an earbud (much like what we now have with Bluetooth buds) and tiny computers they look at and converse with (much like what we now have with the proliferation of Smart Phones). It’s a world where people can play video games with 3-d images on holographic devices hovering in the air in front of them (much like the increasingly realistic video games we now have). Theodore is in the middle of divorce proceedings and isn’t yet able to finalize the divorce. He just can’t sever his ties to the woman he once loved. He’s a loner who lives more inside his computer than in the real world outside. He sees an advertisement for a new computer app that would give him a personalized voice called OS1 (operating system) that would be at his beck and call. Everyone who signs up for this service is assigned a voice that was personalized just for him. Theodore’s OS calls herself Samantha (the voice of Scarlet Johanson) who tells him she has just read through a book of names and chose that name because it sounded nice. It took her just under one second to read the entire book. They converse, he learning about Samantha, she learning about Theodore (with a lot of help from his e-mails and his biographical details stored on the internet). She has a voice that sounds delightfully human even though he knows she isn’t really real, a voice much like what we have now with Siri, the computer voice that speaks directly to the one using a computer or driving a car, writing what he says, giving him directions to places, setting reminders of meetings and appointments. Raj, in The Big Bang Theory, fell in love with Siri, and we laughed at his naiveté. What we see in Her is a glimpse of what we might have in the near future. I can’t think we’re so far behind a time when the technologists and computer nerds won’t be able to create an artificial intelligence with access to the world’s knowledge, a being that can think and learn on its own, relating to humans just like another human relates. A long time ago, Isaac Asimov wrote about this very thing in his I, Robot series. Current television shows consider the same things in Almost Human and Intelligence. This movie was all about love. What if I were a blind quadriplegic, unable to see or touch or feel the one I was communicating with. Could I possibly fall in love with that being? Is a physical relationship necessary for two people (or artificial beings) to fall in love? Could I love more than one person, or voice? Would I be jealous if that voice I loved told me he/she loved more than just me, like maybe as many as 687 others (as Samantha tells Theodore)? Good questions, and ones we’d better be prepared to answer, because this kind of future is just around the corner, just a day or two away.

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