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.
Citing Siri’s techno-character influences, such as 2001‘s HAL9000 and Knight Rider‘s KITT, Kittlaus says that he and his partners developed their software “to get things done.” They were as surprised as anyone when, after Apple bought out their company and put in every iPhone, to see it become such a worldwide phenomenon. It’s one thing for people to enjoy the randomness of Siri’s answers, but another to expect her/it to respond in a way that a normal human being would, with pop culture references and everything.
To do the things Samantha does, he says she “needs to understand the vast spectrum of elements that make up emotion, conversation and even the ability to observe and share in the world around her.” Most humans can’t even get that straight. And in order for Theodore’s phone camera to actually serve as her eyes to the world, it “would entail massively scaled real-time image recognition, spatial understanding, facial and mood recognition—as well as understanding the subtleties of thousands of social scenarios in order to predict that the couple sitting at the table were on a first date.”
He also brings up a point that even my open mind thought was ludicrous. How on Earth did Samantha hear Theodore so perfectly, both his words and his tone, each and every time he spoke, regardless of whether he was whispering or if they were in a loud ass circus? Maybe she was also secretly a mind reader. That’s more plausible, right?
So no, we probably won’t have anything like Samantha to get chummy with in the near future, and we’ll all have to settle for phone sex with living, heavy breathing human beings. But you can lay back on the couch with Siri on March 2 to see how many awards Her takes home at the Oscars.