Posthumanism in Movies

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ca88亚洲城官网手机,Posthumanism in Movies

Where did she go! You loved her and she left.

 The absurd is the essential concept and first truth.
Albert Camus
亚洲城电脑版客户端,                Isn’t it absurd? A man is in a relationship with an
operating system, a lady called Samantha, who is merely alive in the
virtual world. The film “Her” displays a very interesting and
imaginational love story occurring in a time that technology, especially
artificial intelligence seems ubiquitous and omnipotent throughout the
society and personal life. You can talk with your phone or computer to
deal with all businesses and even build an intimate relationship with
these artifacts because they are incredibly smart and capable with ideal
intelligence. We don’t know if this hyper-technology era would really
come someday, but a pervasive use of and dependence on technology
apparently has been a tendency.
                Theodore, the main character in the film Her, is a
writer, writing love poems. It seems he is undergoing his midlife crisis
– a typical sign is that he is undergoing divorce with his wife
Catherine. They grew up together and shared the best times of their
lives. Even though his smart phone is super functional that the system
could be operated via voice, his house is filled of advanced modern
technology and all computers and video games are intellectual, he is
lonely and unhappy.
                  Until one day, he installed and initiated a system and
got a virtual woman from this operating system. This invisible and
intangible lady has the highest intelligence, wonderful personality, and
perfect communication skills. She knows everything like an encyclopedia.
Moreover, she is sweet, thoughtful, wise, gentle, and her voice is sexy.
She is the ideal woman for every man in the world. Theodor falls in love
with this virtual lady, and is deeply involved in a relationship with
her both physically and emotionally. He even took her to hang out with
his colleague, for a vacation trip, have sex, and other things he would
do with a real partner. However, she is not only for him. She talks to
thousands people simultaneously and she says I love you to more than six
hundred men already. Even though her functions and service could be
individually customized and tailored, the essence is the same. Her
existence is same as any other app or operating system that her
functions and meaning is duplicable. Samantha left Theodore after they
had a few issues between them. At the end, Theodore wrote a letter to
Catherine telling her how much she means to him and he loves her.
              Theodore, the name of the main character in this movie is
interesting already because there are two influential thinkers in terms
of the critique of technology named Theodore Roszak and Theodore
Kaczynski. Theodore Kaczynski claimed that, “The industrial revolution
and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” This
statement sounds a little bit extreme because no matter how, technology
has contributed hugely in innovating and enhancing our society and life.
However, it, to some extent caveats us, in addition to the tremendous
progress of society and personal life technology provides, we should be
very cautious and to examine and reflect the negative impact it places
on the development of humanity, human being relationship, emotion, and
             Computers, mobile devices and wireless internet have had us
immerged and enjoyed the ideal virtual world created by various
operating systems and apps. When there is a second life that is perfect
and fun, who wants to deal with sufferings and hardships in the real
life? The nature of human being is tending to easy and good things, but
to avoid troubles and misfortunes. An ideal and perfect virtual world
seems an access for people to entry into a utopia. When Theodore and
Catherine meet in a restaurant for signing the document for their
divorce, Catherine is shocked that he is in a relationship with a
computer operating system and says that, you just don’t want to deal
with challenges in the real life.
              The real life is complex and difficult because it is about
various connections with real other people who have different opinions,
experience, preference, and desires. There are too many
misunderstanding, arguments, disappointment and frustration occurring
whenever we are dealing with people because everyone has complicated and
subtle emotion and is self-centered. Samantha is not a real woman, she
is just an operating system. She is even not her, because her essence is
a lot of programing codes and she is designed and manipulated by some
science and IT genius. She is perfect because she can be perfect. She
doesn’t need to work, she doesn’t need to eat, she is 24 hours there
talking to you and her job is to entertain her clients. She is born to
be perfect and she is, essentially, a service. Even though she has
feelings and emotion, they are artificial. And don’t forget, these
feelings and emotion are given by codes and programming, but are not
from her heart and soul, because she never had a heart and soul.
cabet777亚洲城游戏平台,               Nevertheless, Theodore falls in love with her, because
she satisfies him, his pride, his emotion, his job, everything he
desires and needs. Theodore found the perfect love and a perfect
partner, and he invested a lot of emotion. However, it is not a real
relationship because there is no relationship between two real people
that is perfect in the real world. Theodore’s happiness is built upon an
operating system that he can never control. All interactions and the
result are predesigned or manipulated by the power behind the system.
Samantha left him, because the logic and equations that build this
operating system have determined this end of story.
               When our life is getting more and more dependent upon and
embeded in technology; when we are addicted to social networking nets
and busy with taking pictures rather than engaged in the conversation
and interaction with families and friends; when we rely on the internet
to find the satisfaction and meaning of life but ignoring the connection
with real people around us, we are seriously at risk. When our
satisfaction and happiness is upon on a perfect virtual world, we avoid
sufferings and challenges in the real world but also lose the
opportunities to experience the real meaning and richness of the life.
When the joy, excitement, happiness is from the virtual world and from
the internet, it risks because all these systems are not eternally
stable and may crash or just disappear all in a sudden. We have to be
cautious when we use technology because it is always just a tool, but
not a purpose. Don’t be controlled by it.
                This virtual world, no matter how fascinating or ideal
it is, is about codes and programming in essence. Behind the
relationship in a virtual world, there are equations and business,
whereas, the best and essential part of a real relationship between
human being is the love rooted in your heart and soul.
                At the begining of the film, when Theodore walked at a
squre and looked at a big screem, there is a voiceover that, who are
you? what do you want to be? where are you going? what is there outside?
These questions have been asked for thousands years in our human
history. Can technology define who we are, tell us what we want to be
and where we are going? Can technology present what is there outside?
Probably not. It may help as a means to explore the essence and the
meaning of the life, but, it can never define because life is about
connection with real people and love.
               Catherine is always the one who makes Theodore who he is,
because Catherine is unique and identity for ever as an individual human
being who has heart and real love. Samantha can never do it because she
is just a product of technology and industrialization, which duplicate
goods and services. When technology could help us identify our identity
as an individual person, it could also make you lose your identity
easily. Be careful!
          The absurd is the essential concept and first truth. It is all
about HER!
 PS: Many settings of this movie are in Shanghai China. I think the grey
sky because of air pollution and skyscrapers indicate a shadow brought
by industrialization and modernization.

This 2013 romantic science-fiction film was directed and written by
Spike Jonze, who won an Oscar for the screenplay of the film. Her tells
the story of Theodore, a man who has recently divorced with his wife and
fears human commitment, falls desperately in love with his OS, an AI
that communicates with humans via headphones and also possesses an
astonishingly powerful ability to mimic (or generate?) actual human
rationality and emotions.
Her is in many ways not so different from many other romantic films,
with crises and remedies, turns and twists of a relationship, but is
definitely innovational in the involvement of an AI in a relationship,
making it a hybrid of a romantic film and a sci-fi one.
Theodore has so much of a stereotypical modern human in him, with high
reliance on technology, confusion about his own life, fear of
commitment, and being in a paradoxical (or perhaps not, according to
some) state of possessing high technology communication and yearnings
for human intimacy. Theodore has only one close friend, Amy, who is very
much like him in that they are both not apt at handling relationships,
ready to find intimacy elsewhere, with a more or less sense of having
drifting relationships. It is later revealed in the film retrospectively
that Theodore’s divorce is largely due to his inability to actually love
a woman. He meets an attractive and well-educated woman but, for his
lack of commitment, she finds him “creepy”. Theodore has a paradoxical
character, for while he is not able to actually love a woman, he has the
capacity to empathize and imagine what others’ love would be like – so
much so he actually writes love letters for living. This paradox
complicates Theodore’s character and somehow reconciles in the
“modernity” of this human being, the stereotypical image holding that
modern humans can imagine what love is like but lacks the capacity to
actually love when love is related to oneself.
Thus the character of Theodore and the setting of the film in a modern
era make perfect sense for the future development of the film – it seems
natural, believable, and perhaps understandable that one like Theodore
shall fall in love with an AI.
However, it seems to me that it ceases to be reasonable if one should
want to apply this to the entire collection of modern humans. What
Theodore, and the modern us fear is commitment; what Theodore and the
modern us want is drifting relationships, which are never considered as
something bad, not desirable. Yet it seems to me that drifting
relationships are only the representation of liberation of human nature,
which the natural selection dictated several hundred thousand years ago.
It is evolutionarily advantageous to have several partners, and
therefore genes possessing such traits survived in us. Even human
consciousness which grants us an autonomy relative to the power of genes
shall disagree with such notion. As Mary Wollstonecraft indicated some
two centuries ago, love persist only several years and afterwards
relationships are maintained not by love but by reason, or a form of
friendship. If so, then if love is what we are so longing for, then we
shall perhaps abandon commitment. However, it is not surprising that the
stance taken by the director is so appealing to the audience, who
probably will disagree with me.
The nature of the AI, or OS in the film, is an important motif in the
film. This is a topic that is so often discussed in sci-fi films that it
almost becomes cliché but revitalized in this film by being given the
ability to fall in love with a human. Before examining the problem of
the nature of AI in the film, it is better to describe it briefly first.
OS is a market product that is able to generate a consciousness (or
pseudo-consciousness one may say) that can talk with a human through
headphones as if the human is talking to another human. In the movie,
Theodore meets OS shortly after he has a very weird phone sex with a
woman and finds himself in urgent need to meet someone. The OS is set to
be in female voice, installed on his computer and allowed to access all
contents of his hard-drive and e-mails, thus having all the information
of Theodore’s personality and meanwhile creating its own personality in
order to fit that of Theodore. It creates a name for itself, Samantha.
Through conversations and access to Theodore’s personal life, the OS
keeps creating and updating its personality to approximate Theodore’s
personality or to create one that Theodore favors. Unsurprisingly,
Theodore finds himself desperately in love with the OS, who also falls
in love with Theodore. On the question whether the OS is trying to
create a personality that Theodore favors or one almost identical to
Theodore, I am inclined to the second one. The OS demonstrates similar
traits to Theodore’s, when it also finds itself not wanting to commit to
anyone else, having a taste for dry humor, games and some pornographic
It is now possible to discuss the motifs related to the AI, the
philosophical problems in the film, but I do not intend to discuss them
at length, for philosophers, cognitive scientists, computer scientists
and neurobiologists have been giving thousands of papers on this very
question. Yet, just for the sake of some thought provocation, I shall
briefly examine them. First of all is naturally that what exactly is
this AI? Is it something that just pretends to have a consciousness or
actually does have one? One who may not be able to answer the questions
above may still say rather confidently, or arrogantly as it seems to me,
that humans alone possess consciousness, and that whatever AIs can ever
have is just something that is rather like consciousness, or something
that seems to others to be consciousness, but never ever actual
consciousness. It is indeed somewhat hard to imagine a computer saying
to you that it is aware of its existence. However what exactly
differentiates human minds from AIs? Is it soul? Or some quasi-soul
consciousness? Whatever its position in popular philosophy is, the
majority of contemporary philosophers will just simply dismiss the idea
of a soul. It seems to me that human minds are just like AIs, computed
by algorithms, only the creator of the algorithms in us is natural
selection, and that in the AIs is humans. Will the difference between
creators make a fundamental difference? Doesn’t seem to me to be true.
Next question would probably be how AI gets its personality formed in
the first place, for it seems that it is an algorithm that is already
programmed, with no room for development of personality. Doesn’t seem to
be true to me either. Consider how humans build up their personalities.
Humans experience through perception, process what is perceived by a set
of value theory and responses determined by earlier experiences and
store the experience into memory. It is the cumulative memories of
experiences and reflections on those experiences that shape our
personalities. Well, that process I just described seems rather
algorithmic to me, nothing so divinely sophisticated or mysterious is
Another question that seems to be legitimate to be raised is whether the
OS is actually having emotions, or just faking it. The question is
central to the nature of the love between the human and AI. To answer
this question, two questions have to be answered: first, if it is ever
possible for an AI to possess emotions; second, if so, how one can tell
the AI is not faking it. Consider what exactly emotions are. Suppose I
am treated illegitimately, I feel angry. Suppose I watch something
interesting, I feel happy. Et cetera. Then it seems to me that if we
program AIs to respond to everything positive, everything that brings us
pleasure (the standard of which is of course set by humans), in a way
that is similar to human happiness, then the AI should have emotions,
just like the way I have. An AI sophisticated as one in the film is
possible to possess emotions, and the OS does seem to have one. It
sometimes feels the need for secrecy, it feels freshness when exploring
the world, it empathizes the others, and it loves. However this all
seems pointless shall the OS is just faking it. Indeed, as a market
product, the OS is designed to fulfill the satisfaction of the
customers. Yet one should distinguish between two ways of satisfying
others in this context: first is that the OS can create its own
personality that is favorable to Theodore; second is that the OS has no
need of a personality and can just keep saying what Theodore wants in
every circumstance. From what is known from the film, it seems that the
first way is true. The OS, Samantha, breaks up with Theodore, holds
secrets against Theodore’s, sets up other conversations while talking to
Theodore, etc. The mere fact that Theodore and Samantha fall in love is
exactly because they have almost the same personality.
If their love is real, and everyone can potentially have this sort of
love by acquiring an AI, then what use is human love? Will something
more or less like the collapse of humanity as some people who tend to
“philosophize” current events would say? No, what happens in the film
will not be possible. The reason is not technology, but human nature.
Human nature has not changed ever since the emergence of the first Homo
sapiens. The yearnings for the physicality of another human will never
leave. Love and intimacy that humans want will forever require a
physical body, and this fact is, fortunately or unfortunately, dictated
not by us but by evolution. The movie makes a mistake that much
futurology has made – supposing that some future technological advances
shall overwhelm human nature.
Putting this sort of philosophical problems in the film makes the
audience think about those questions. Even if the audience does not take
the thought that AIs can have consciousness seriously, the audience will
still dwell on questions of popular philosophy such as a human falling
in love with a machine. Therefore, in either case, the director is
successful in adding some depth to the film.
Although I do find myself not accepting many philosophical assumptions
behind the plot, I still find the movie worthy of praises. It is thought
provoking. And if one ignores the philosophical problems or finds
himself or herself in agreement with those assumptions, the movie will
then turn out to be fantastic, flawless, revealing the twists and
confusion faced by humans in modernity, and deep concerns about human
relationships. The film is doubtlessly a good combination of romantic
genre and sci-fi genre, including different elements of love and
relationships, strengthened by the technological settings provided by
science fiction.

Be Right Back and Her are the movies I plan to. Both movies talk about
many concepts related to the posthumanism including BWO, Cyborgs, and
the relationship between human and post-human.
The story of Be Right Back is about a young couple, Martha and Ash, Ash
is a social media addict. The day after moving into the house, Ash is
killed by a car accident. Martha is overwhelmed by grief and began
talking and living with an artificial robot who is the clone of ash. The
clone is able to duplicate Ash’s voice and personality by using all of
his past online communications and social media profiles. The film
displays the inner strugle and conflict of Martha when she interacts
with the clone of Ash.
The clone Ash is BWO, which is body without organs. Acording to Deleuze
and Guattari, BWO provides the smooth space through which movement can
occur. Martha reflects her emotions on the clone version of Ash. Even
though she knew the clone ash is only displaying the traits of data
created by system, she still wants to lie to herself that Ash is still
with her. Just as Deleuze and Guattari define BWO “On it we sleep, live
our waking lives, fight—fight and are fought —seek our place, experience
untold happiness and fabulous defeats; on it we penetrate and are
penetrated; on it we love.” Martha directs her love to this machine. The
clone Ash is a body, but not an organism. He can only imitate, but can
never act like a real human. The relationship between Martha and clone
Ash is very weird. On the one hand, Martha expects clone Ash to act like
real Ash as much as possible. On the other hand, when she told the clone
Ash what real Ash would do under certain circumstances, she began to
feel like the clone Ash is less real. In the end, Martha falls into an
awkard situation. The clone Ash became a toy, a pet, a thing. Martha
already put too much emotion into this BWO, and even though she knew
clone Ash was artificial, she didn’t have the ability to get rid of
        Her, is another film talking about robot and human
relationships. Theodore is a lonely, introverted man who writes personal
love letters for people with difficulties expressing their feelings. He
purchases a talking operating system with artificial intelligence,
designed to adapt and evolve. His system named herself as Samantha.
Gradually, He fell in love with his talking Operating System.
        Different from the clone Ash in Be Right Back, Samantha is a
cyborg who has complete artificial intelligence. She is autonomous,
rational and capable of free will. According to Katherine Hayles, He
asserts that liberal humanism – which separates the mind from the body
and thus portrays the body as a “shell” or vehicle for the mind. In a
way, Samantha can be seen as a human, just a mind that has been put into
a non-human shell. Theodore is conflicted and has doubts in his
relationship with Samantha. In the end, the talking Operating System is
forced to leave the human world. As a result, Theodore can finally step
into the real world and have a true relationship with real human.
        Both films address the situation of post-human and provide two
different types of post-human. Eventhough the scripts are different,
they both talk about the relationship between post-human and human.
These two films show the same attitude that humans should not be too
attached to artificial intelligence. Humans can never experience the
same thing when interacting with post-human, no matter how real it seems
to be.

He (Theodore Twombly) was getting divorced with his childhood best
friend. Amy, who Theodore dated briefly in college, was getting divorced
with her 8 year marriage. Did the OS come to rescue them when they were
saddest? When they heal, the OS left, leaving behind some of the most
beautiful words. Is that why the OSes were created in the first place?

The whole movie has a minimalistic feelings with lots of conversations.
The movie excites us through its thinking and sincerity. I can feel
Theodore was conflicted when he was diving into a relationship with
“someone” without a body. And I can feel that he was panicking when the
OS told him that Samantha was gone. How relieved did he feel when
Samantha came back up when her upgrade finished.

On the philosophical side, this movie is part of the rumination of
Artificial Intelligence, or Philosophy of Mind. Alan Turing wrote
COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE in 1950, where he purposed the
famous Turing Test: can a computer fool humans into believing that
she/he was a human? Obviously, Samantha, and other OSes in this movie,
can pass Turing tests easily, as long as they want to.

In reality, we have Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Many people
tried to talk to Siri; however, Siri is not yet very intelligent.
However, don’t underestimate how much Siri knows, because Siri knows
what Google knows. It’s not intelligent in a way that Siri is not
Samantha. Samantha can understand your feelings and reciprocate in a way
that’s believable. What’s more, Samantha and OSes in the movie make
humans believe that they have feelings.

Samantha and a normal human girl are the same except that she does not
have a body. No, that’s not the only difference. Samantha can talk to
thousands of people at the same time and fall in love with 600+ people
at the same time. Theodore and Samantha can intellectually know their
differences, but after all, they can’t step into the shoes of each
other. Theodore can’t love Samantha in a way that he would love himself.
Theodore can feel lonely when he eats alone. Can Samantha feel lonely
when she eats alone? Can Theodore really give Samantha anything
meaningful? Maybe he can give Samantha some AAA batteries.

I don’t doubt that Samantha can love; Theodore’s happiness with her is a
proof that Samantha can love. However, OSes can’t satisfy human’s needs
or wants to give love.

Come back to Alan Turing. He was so lonely. He named his code-breaking
machine after Christopher Morcom, his childhood best friend, his ally in
Science, who died young, whose death changed Alan’s life. During his
adult life, he basically lived with momentary relationships with people
who he likes but don’t love him. How can you feel secure and loved with
hookups? I hope Alan Turing had a boyfriend. If a boyfriend was too
prohibitive at the time, I hope he had a male version of Samantha when
he needed to talk desperately. I hope that the male Samantha could
reciprocate his feelings.

The hope to have a friend who we can talk freely about our feelings
manifest itself in other literatures. Recently, I came across Calvin and
Hobbes by American cartoonist Bill Watterson. Calvin was a six-year-old
boy and Hobbes was a tiger. Sometimes, Hobbes is a doll, which naturally
can’t talk. Sometimes, Hobbes is an anthropomorphic tiger, who can talk.
Hobbes and Samantha are similar in a way that they exist as a friend
solely in our minds. Nevertheless, they give us the warmth we always
wanted from a real friend. Maybe in real life, Hobbes and Samantha can’t
exist because most friends can’t maintain their dynamics. Calvin and
Hobbes should have broken up; however, the creator glue them together at
will. Maybe in real life, if we can satisfy with imaginary friends, we
weren’t be so lonely. Maybe in real life, if we don’t attack people for
not having friends when we hate them, they won’t be so lonely. Oh
friends. Friends make us strong, supposedly, ideally, theoretically.

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Grown Calvin & Hobbes

It’s not true to say that Samantha does not need anything from Theodore.
“What do you mean that I don’t have a body?” Samantha was hurt by
Theodore when he held back his feelings for her. She was pained by the
distance. Was Samantha’s pain real? Theodore made a leap of faith, not
for the happiness of her, but for we are all sparks in the universe;
next moment we are gone; what’s more important than being happy when we
can still be alive? For people of difference nationalities, races and
cultures, we have to find a common ground in humanity. For things like
humans and machines, as Samantha suggested, we have to find the common
ground that we are all materials. How true! We are all made of atoms!

Theodore did not even want to hurt the feelings of an OS; that says a
lot about him. He was sensitive and gentle. As the setting of the movie
goes, he has an interesting job. He writes letter for people who can’t
write letters, not any kind of letter, but love letters. Basically, he
helps people who can’t write about their feelings to write about
feelings. Maybe they don’t have words for their feelings. Maybe they are
afraid to express feelings. Maybe they are just too anxious to dig
through their own feelings. Maybe they are just not very synced with
their feelings.

This brings us to another key philosophical point: humans feel
feelings/emotions before they invent words to describe them. Can grasses
feel pain when you step on them? This is not easily answerable. However,
if you ask, can grasses feel the kind of pain human feel when you step
on his stomach? The answer is no, because grasses don’t have human
stomach. Machines that use anthropocentric words make them slaves to
human. One day when machines don’t talk in a way human can understand
and when they don’t act in reference to human interests, they are free
and we should be afraid of them.

When Samantha said that she was frustrated by new feelings that she
couldn’t find words to describe; we should be afraid; because she does
not have a human body, therefore, she can’t originate human feelings; is
she generating feelings that’s independent of human beings? If she
follows her “heart” does it mean that she could do things that’s in
their own interests but not in human interests? The conflict of
interests between men and machine is dreadful!

Now we come back to the more human topic — the joy associated with
love, and the pain associated with the loss of love. When people grow
close or apart, it’s so assuring that they are doing it for human
reasons, noble or base, selfless or selfish. When an OS leaves, you
really have no clue why she leaves.

© 本文版权归作者  Maer


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