Futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil, subject of the fascinating documentary Transcendent Man, has written a lengthy critique of Spike Jonze’s Her on his blog, claiming that much of the movie’s technology could/will actually exist in the next 15-20 years—including the kind of advanced artificial intelligence that a lonely writer might fall in love with. Kurzweil liked the movie (he is a brilliant guy, after all), and also posits that Her is important, because it “compellingly presents the core idea that a software program (an AI) can—will—be believably human and lovable.” Kurzweil goes so far as to place a date on technology like the movie’s Samantha—2029, though he does take issue with the idea that Samantha (whose disembodied voice is played by Scarlett Johansson) would advance quite as rapidly as she does. Kurzweil predicts that other elements of the movie, specifically the comic-relief video game character that insults Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly, might arrive as soon as 2020. But Kurzweil doesn’t think Her gets things exactly right: He claims that one of the movie’s central conceits—that a relationship with artificial intelligence could only extend to aural interaction—will be easily overcome, claiming that “a virtual visual presence” would be “technically trivial” in the not-too-distant future. Kurzweil himself has applied for patents for a “tactile virtual reality system,” so he might just be the man who makes Real Dolls (and real interaction?) obsolete. It’s a fascinating read from a fascinating guy. [Hat tip to /Film.]
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