Just yesterday, my boyfriend I were driving home from New Hampshire and he asked me to send a text message to our friend. As I fumbled around for his phone, he said, “Wait! Let’s have Siri do it.” I don’t own a smartphone and will avoid doing so as long as possible, but I fully admit to the convenience of pretty much everyone I know having one. I get to satisfy my curiosity (and often raise my ire) by playing with friends’ smartphones — it’s kind of like bumming a cigarette here and there without ever buying a pack. To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard my boyfriend use Siri, so I was excited to give it a whirl. But it turns out that Siri wasn’t available in our current location, which wasn’t far from civilization at all. I guess Siri isn’t a fan of the White Mountain region? I got to think about how realistic Her felt, but how far we actually are from developing AI with anything approaching that level of intelligence and awareness. And apparently I’m not the only one with those thoughts — Viv Labs, a startup created by three of Siri’s creators, is set to release an AI that blows Siri out of the water.
Despite the all-around critical success that Spike Jonze’s Her has received in past months, there are quite a few people out there who think lead character Theodore’s (Joachim Phoenix) relationship with his Scarlett-Johansson-voiced OS Samantha is sad and unrealistic. These are the people I think would end up using an artificially intelligent OS the most, getting buck wild when it doesn’t agree with their shitty taste in movies. But is this future even possible? As most of you may already assume, I’m nowhere near smart or informed enough to answer that question. But Dag Kittlaus might be.
Kittlaus is one of the co-founders of Siri, the voice recognition app that tells you what the weather is like outside, as well as its definition and word origin. He wrote a guest column for Variety that took a lighthearted look at the complexities that computer science need to master before something like Samantha could begin waxing poetic and getting her phone sex on. Not surprisingly, there are more than a few factors that come into play.
One of the front-runners for the Best Picture Academy Award is Spike Jonze’s science fiction romance Her. Critics and audiences seem to be gravitating toward Jonze’s film about loneliness and depression colliding with new technology. The film takes place in the not-too-distant future and examines the love affair between a sad sack, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and his new artificially intelligent operating system Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. While the film also seems to be Spike Jonze working out some past feelings between himself and his ex-wife Sofia Coppola, the sci-fi film’s “inspiration” is not a fan of the 44-year-old director’s latest.
Apple’s iOS 7 “Siri” voice command assistant is none too pleased with Spike Jonze’s Her. While Siri’s comments are short and quippy, the iOS feature is not impressed with Jonze’s portrayal of artificial intelligence in the new film. If you ask Siri, “Are You Her?,” Siri will respond with jabs like the screenshots below. Siri’s responds ranges from “No, you know that’s just a movie, right?” to “No. In my opinion, she gives artificial intelligence a bad name.” Of course, Siri doesn’t have thoughts, feelings, or emotions of its own; that’s just something to consider when you’re watching Spike Jonze’s latest film.
Despite being over a decade into the 21st century, it is a sad and depressing reality that most of us don’t have badass robotic butlers to help us navigate our daily lives and do the chores we don’t want to mess with. Until such time as we do live in a happier, more robotically butlered world, we’ll just have to make do with things like Siri, the “intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator” introduced by Apple a while back. Siri may not be able to do your laundry for you, but she can direct you to the nearest Laundromat. She also, as it turns out, is rather opinionated when it comes to the subject of movies about robots.