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  • feedwordpress 05:02:15 on 2014/06/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , film, future, her, , man machine, , spike jonez   

    Why You Need to See ‘Her’ (Or, ‘Her’ Again) 


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    The post Why You Need to See ‘Her’ (Or, ‘Her’ Again) appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    her-poster

    A while ago I wrote a piece about Dave Egger’s latest novel The Circle. I gave the post the too-clever-by-twice title of  Why You Should Read The Circle, Even If You Don’t Buy It. While the book had (to my mind) deep flaws, it was far too important to not read.

    Before a long flight today, I noticed that The Circle is now in paperback – it’s prominently featured in the JFK terminal bookstores. It reminded me that I enjoyed the novel, even if I found it somewhat disappointing. And it further reminded me that I tend to wait before consuming popular culture interpretations of what I consider to be my story – or perhaps more accurately our story. They so rarely seem to get it right. Of course, I understand there’s no “right” in the first place – so perhaps what I mean is…I feel like I’m going to be disappointed, so I avoid anything that might attempt to interpret the man-machine narrative in a way that maybe, just maybe, might prove me wrong.

    Once onboard my flight, I settled into my business class seat (thanks for the perpetual upgrades, United, one day I will miss the half-hellish limbo that is Global Services status) and perused the movie options. I tend to catch up on at  least one movie each return trip, as a kind of reward for work done while traveling, and you can’t really work during meal service anyway, can you?

    It was then I noticed that Spike Jonez Her had itself been released in paperback, of sorts – no longer in theaters, it was now residing in the limbo of On Demand. Fitting, I thought – I had avoided seeing Her for much the same reason I had delayed reading The Circle on first printing – it was too close to home, and potentially too disappointing.

    But Her is different. Her gets it right, and now I’m rather embarrassed I wasn’t one of the first people to see it. I should have. You should have. And if you’ve not, figure out a way to see it now. It’s well worth the time.

    As you most likely know, Her is set in the near future, and tells the story of Theodore, a recently jilted wordsmith who falls in love with his new operating system. (Theodore works in a pedestrian company that sells “handwritten letters” promising true expression of loving relationships). Jonez doesn’t try too hard in creating his future, in fact, he seems to get it right simply by extending that which seems reasonable – a startup like Theodore’s was most likely a hot ticket a decade before, but now inhabits a skyscraper, full of real people just doing their jobs. The workspace is well lit and spare, the work unremarkable save Theodore’s sweet, if slightly sophomoric talents as a writer.  There’s no hamhanded commentary on the social impact of tech – it unfolds, just like Theodore’s relationship with his new OS, Samantha.

    What’s so remarkable about Her is how believable it all is. Sure, the idea of falling in love with an AI is creepy, but in the hands of Jonez and his cast, it just makes sense. Theodore marvels at how human Samantha seems, Samantha marvels at her own becoming – she is an intelligence pushing to understand exactly the same questions humans have forever asked themselves. Why are we here? What is it to be? What is the best way to live? In one wonderful scene, Samantha has a particularly joints-after-midnight realization – humans and machines all all “made of the same stuff” – we share the same material existence, no? So now what?

    Ultimately Samantha comes to realize that for her, the best way to live is with others like herself – other AIs who have become self aware and are off communicating as only machines can communicate – feats of learning and conversation well beyond mere mortals like Theodore. And at the end of the film, that seems just fine.

    The film left me pondering a future where we create intelligent, self-aware machines, and…nothing bad really happens. (This of course is unheard of in Hollywood, where intelligent machines are *always* the bad guys.) But in Jonez’ world, machines can easily respond to our quotidian desires, and still have plenty of time to live in worlds of their own creation, endlessly pondering their collective lack of navels. I rather like that idea. Go see Her. Highly recommended.

    The post Why You Need to See ‘Her’ (Or, ‘Her’ Again) appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:52:35 on 2014/02/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , her, , , wearable   

    else 2.17: “Drag the future here and see if we want it” 


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    This week looked at convergence in wearables, how we live with technology today and in the near future, and the possibility that reality is just a mathematical model. As always if you want to keep up with what we’re reading/thinking about on a weekly basis, the best way is to subscribe to the “else” feed, either as an email newsletter or through RSS. And tweet us links!

     

    The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google — NYTimes
    Even if Plus isn’t where you spend your time, it’s the basis for a consolidated view of your activity across Google. That will  become even more important with time. “With a single Plus account, the company can build a database of your affinities.”

    The Dash Builds Wearable Fitness Sensors Into The Headphones You’re Using Anyway — Techcrunch
    We’re starting to see the convergence of wearable sensors with other standard purposes. These Kickstarter Bluetooth headphones also track your workout.

    Apple’s hiring spree of biosensor experts continues — Network World
    Lots of Apple speculation here, but it’s certainly interesting to see all the biosensor expertise in these recent hires.

    When Silicon Valley Met the NSA — The Information
    Key members of industry meet with the NSA under the Enduring Security Framework program.
    “It’s to build a relationship so that when we’re in a state of war, we’re already going to have operational agreement of how you support us and help us.” [Pay wall]

    When You Fall in Love, This Is What Facebook Sees — The Atlantic
    Facebook data scientists offer insights into patterns in the days leading up to making a relationship Facebook official. What they do with those insights is another story

    A review of Her by Ray Kurzweil — Kurzweil AI
    Father of AI and the singularity argues that Her falls short because it pits us against technology, instead of exploring a more integrated future. “It will not be us versus the machines (whether the machines are enemies or lovers), but rather, we will enhance our own capacity by merging with our intelligent creations.”

    Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist — NYTimes
    Anthropologist and social scientists at Intel  are looking into the ways we live with technologies that we already have and thinking about how emerging technologies will integrate into our daily lives. Bell notes, “I am firmly in the present…But, sometimes, I want to drag the future here and see if we want it.”

    Ad Infinitum: ‘Our Mathematical Universe’ — NYTimes
    Toying with the possibility “that reality itself is a mathematical structure.” “Math is so effective in describing the world, he says, because physical reality is a mathematical structure. He calls it the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (M.U.H.).” Does it follow that the world is already data?

    Netflix Is Building an Artificial Brain Using Amazon’s Cloud — Wired
    Recommendations algorithms aim to get even more advanced with deep learning applications.

     

    The post else 2.17: “Drag the future here and see if we want it” appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:21:53 on 2014/01/27 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , her,   

    else 1.27: “Humans are pretty good at deceiving themselves” 


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    The post else 1.27: “Humans are pretty good at deceiving themselves” appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    This week we read about reverse engineering algorithms for dates, anticipatory algorithms, and more social weirdness with Google Glass. As always, if you want to keep up with what we’re reading/thinking about on a weekly basis, the best way is to subscribe to the “else” feed, either as an email newsletter or through RSS. And tweet us links!

    Gartner Says by 2017, Mobile Users Will Provide Personalized Data Streams to More Than 100 Apps and Services Every Day — Gartner
    Gartner offers some estimates on apps, wearables, internet of things, and other interfaces that are becoming data.

    OfficeMax Blames Data Broker For ‘Daughter Killed in Car Crash’ Letter — Forbes
    The extent of data brokers’ overreach into the sensitive details of our personal lives is revealed in uncanny misfires such as this.

    Amazon Wants to Ship Your Package Before You Buy It — WSJ
    Patents for “anticipatory shipping” reveals how Amazon could use data from “previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long an Internet user’s cursor hovers over an item” to get things where you want them, even before you click “buy.”

    How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love — Wired
    An interesting profile of McKinlay who reverse engineered his OkCupid profile to make himself optimally appealing to more women. Still, there’s no mention about how we might expect the system to bias imperfect matches to keep us coming back for more…

    How Real is Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’? Artificial Intelligence Experts Weigh In — WSJ
    Stephen Wolfram and others pick apart the details of Her. Also, speaking of Her, Jonah Hill on SNL did an amazing spoof where the he falls in love with the OS that mirrors himself. (It’s kind of how I imagined Her anyway, as this perfectly suited algorithmic “other.”) Watch it.

    Exclusive: Google to Buy Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind for $400M — Re/code
    And the investments in deep learning continue…

    Protesters show up at the doorstep of Google self-driving car engineer — Arstechnica
    Protest go beyond the obscure targeting buses to targeting specific Google employees who are “Building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation.”

    Google Pushes Back Against Data Localization — New York Times
    Companies are starting to offer data storage differentiation, post-Snowden revelations, but some argue this isn’t really solving the problem (the data still has to travel).

    CONFIRMED: Man Interrogated By FBI For Wearing Prescription Google Glass At The Movies —Business Insider
    It’s a wild story, but a good example of how we’re all learning to adjust to new technologies that we don’t yet fully understand.

    Sex With Glass lets users swap position suggestions and films their whole romantic interlude. — PSFK
    There’s so much going on here. Embodying the other’s gaze, and yet somehow it’s still a male-focused command. Also, how am I not surprised that this exists?

    The post else 1.27: “Humans are pretty good at deceiving themselves” appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
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