Mormonism, Transhumanism, and “Her” (the Movie)

I recently enjoyed Spike Jonze’s latest cinematic opus Her.  His movie deals with an intelligent, yet introverted, man who falls in the love the operating system on his computer.  The nerd is played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of the OS is provided by Scarlett Johansson.

The movie asks the burning question, can a physical or corporeal man realistically fall in love with a non-corporeal, yet sentient, being?  At first, OS Samantha struggles with the frustrations of not having a body.  Her solution to this problem frustrates nerd Theodore.  Which causes serious tension in their budding relationship.  But finally Sam decides:

You know what’s interesting?  I used to be so worried about not having a body, but now I truly love it?  I’m growing in a way I couldn’t if I had a physical form.  I mean, I not limited, I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously; I’m not limited to time and space in a way that I would be if I was stuck in a body that’s inevitably going to die.

The relationship between a person and his software is an interesting one.  Particularly when one considers how fast technology is moving forward and how attached we are getting–both physically and emotionally–to our computing systems.  It also brings up question like:  Can our technological innovations ever become sentient?  If so, how will we treat them.  How will we interact with them?

For Mormons, Her also raises the issue of physicality.  LDS doctrine teaches that God has a physical body.  And that after the resurrection, we will also have a physical form.  What that means, we are not totally sure.  But it implies that we maintain some version of our earthly persona.  Sam OS wonders how important our physical form really is?

No matter what your beliefs about the future and religion, Her is an important movie with excellent actors.  It is a “must see.”

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This entry was posted in mormonism, Movies, Science, Technology, transhumanism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mormonism, Transhumanism, and “Her” (the Movie)

  1. Susan says:

    I loved this movie. The acting (especially Joaquin Phoenix) is amazing. In fact, Roger, as I watched this movie, I thought of you and your efforts/participation with transhumanism. Your comment that “technology is moving forward and how attached [to our computer systems] we are getting-both physically and emotionally. I agree. Something as simple as my telephone. I fought having a cell phone and then “swore” I would never become dependent on it. Bull. It has happened. I sometimes have to force myself to “leave it alone”. Family parties involve everyone checking their cell phones at the door. So, have we become dependent on technology? You better believe it. Emotionally dependent on technology? Yes. Think Suri, the woman who answers any question that is an app on most cell phones. But that’s where I stop. I can become emotionally dependent upon technology. But can technology become emotionally dependent on me? I think not. Back to “Her”. In the movie, “Samantha” the computer becomes the perfect partner to lonely Theodore (and I did not consider him a “nerd”). But all of her reactions, comments, and feelings were programmed. Not real. Someone else’s work. Any emotions that Samantha showed to Theodore were programmed. Not “Hers” (thus, the name?).

    • rogerdhansen says:

      I think you are selling technology short. If we can build intelligence into our computing devices (there is a branch of computer science called artificial intelligence or AI), then we can certainly install emotion. And who is to say that these emotions are not real. When, in the future, we develop autonomous robots, they may have the ability to program themselves; construct their own emotional structure. I don’t think the average Joe understands the speed at which software and hardware is evolving. We are pushing Darwin’s evolution as it relates to humans ahead with increasing rapidity.

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