Recently, Dear Reader, we were much taken with a movie called “Her”, a thought-provoking, rather touching, well-crafted and occasionally funny fantasy comedy-drama about a man who falls in love with the “Artificial Intelligence” character inside his computer.
Written and directed by Spike Jonze (his first full-length screenplay), at the 86th Academy Awards, “Her” received five nominations, including Best Picture, and won the award for Best Original Screenplay. Jonze also won awards for the screenplay at the 71st Golden Globe Awards, the 66th Writers Guild of America Awards, the 19th Critics’ Choice Awards, and the 40th Saturn Awards. The movie was both a critical and financial success.
Given the burgeoning growth of online relationships and megamultiplayer online environments it had the smack of a reality that could well arrive reasonably soon. Of course, the idea of an iterative pseudo-intelligence that grows and learns as it goes along is a regular in science fiction – think Data from “Star Trek, Next Generation”, or even the on-board computer in “2001 A Space Odyssey” – and “Her” took that to its logical conclusion, including a very clever ending which we are far too kind to spoil.
Anyhow, although it is still essentially driven by human brainpower, now a man from the United States has created a mobile phone app that gives users a ‘relationship’ at the touch of a button.
For just $30 – a lot less than your drinks tab for an evening hanging around in a singles bar – you can buy a significant other through the new Invisible Boyfriend/Girlfriend app.
You can even choose the specific details and characteristics to make up your dream partner.
Every customer is promised at least 100 texts, 10 voicemails and a collection of handwritten notes.
“Recovering lawyer” and co-founder Matthew Homann says the app enables people to convince others that they are in a relationship and save themselves from awkward questions.
He says there’s a wide range of reasons why people sign up.
“They might be getting tired of getting hit on at the office. Or they might have grown weary of people asking if they are single.”
The ‘relationships’ are managed by a team of 500 employees in the US.
Mr Homann says they hope to expand the service to include deliveries, so people can get gifts brought to their workplace to impress their colleagues.
It would be easy to scoff at such an idea, but we view it sympathetically. There are a lot of lonely people on this planet, and there is great social pressure to be considered desirable. If people choose to engage in a small subterfuge to relieve them of that stigma, well, so be it.
It might be a bit embarrassing, though, when their friends beg to be allowed to meet the gorgeous person who sends them flowers to the office.
And we do wonder what level of self-delusion might develop as the text messages ping into their inbox. Might they imagine they are actually in a real relationship with whoever is sending the text, even when, simultaneously, they know logically that they are not? The mind is perfectly capable of such mental gymnastics.
Part of the attraction of the movie “Her” was that the voice of the artificial intelligence was played by Scarlett Johannson. Regular readers will understand when we say that we think we’d fall in love if she was the voice of our computer, too.
Mr Wellthisiswhatithink is only human, when all’s said and done.
If Mr Homann can arrange for voicemails from Scarlett to be delivered to our phone, we’re in.