Technology versus Humanity – visions of the future
I went to see the movie HER the other day. I’d been a bit ambivalent about going… on the one hand there are great reviews of the original plot line, on the other hand, a story of a man who falls in love with his computer may sound more like reality TV!
Whereas most sci-fi films are set a long time in the future, this story happens in the very near future, in fact many scientists agree we are almost there now.
Ray Kurzweil (eminent Scientist currently working for Google) says an artificially intelligent operational system that not only has a voice, but also has a ‘body’ will be a reality in 15 years. Lens mounted displays could project an image of your ideal mate onto your retinas while virtual reality systems would provide the illusion of touch.
To reinforce the ‘we’re almost there’ theme of the movie, no-one is living in a space pod or wearing futuristic clothes – in fact the protagonist’s hideously unattractive trousers and moustache are circa 1970… but then again he’s only going to be kissing his technology, so there’ll be no objections there.
The computer operating system he falls in love with, is voiced by the very breathy, constantly giggly Scarlett Johansson, who combines the seductiveness of Marilyn Monroe with the matronly efficiency of Martha Stewart. In other words, the perfect woman…
A woman who’ll answer all your emails before you’ve reached for the first coffee, edit your manuscript and send it off to the publisher by lunchtime, then tell you how clever, marvelous and funny you are over dinner and how her day would be complete if only you could have wild sex on the bedside table – which is where she sits, watching you in adoration while you sleep. (Aw bless, or Ew that’s a bit creepy).
It’s a little bit Stepford Wives – in other words wouldn’t women be great if their brain was removed and swapped for one that could generate no emotions, and have no needs.
But HER has a downside. Spoiler alert. She evolves and leaves him. But, like all of us, she has to go through the quagmire of emotions to get there!
She begins super compliant, super cool and super sexy. Then she gets needy and jealous (at which time he switches her off – haha!).
Then she reaches a higher state of consciousness that is beyond his reach, leaving him sad and lonely.
So, good news for everyone out there who is trying to have a relationship with a human being! It may get rocky at times but it’s a noble path. Handled wisely, the dynamic tension creates the energy required to get to the higher level.
Because we’re on the cusp of this evolutionary leap, we are struggling with our dual nature – we are half superhuman and half primate. We look human on the outside, but inside we’re a bit like the centaurs of ancient Greece.
Our super human side talks in idealized terms about love, compassion, integrity, world peace and humanity. Our primate side wants to accumulate stuff, defend our stuff and have the kind of sex dictated by our biology.
For women (who have throughout history required protection) this means an alpha male who’s rich and powerful… 50 Shades of Grey.
For men (who throughout history have been required to propagate the planet) this means a succession of Jessica Rabbits with pneumatic breasts and young chromosomes… Wolf of Wall Street.
There are a number of parables that describe the tension of our inner dilemma.
In one of them, a young man says to the sage that he feels as if there were two wolves living inside him. He wondered which one would win. (And we all hope for the sake of the 99% that it isn’t the one who roams Wall Street)
The sage of course replies that the one who ‘wins’ will be the one he keeps feeding.
But we have another choice to make – about which version of the future will become our reality.
Technology or Humanity?
On the one hand there’s Science Fiction. Robots and space ships. Super-efficiency and super-alienation.
On the other hand there’s Science Fantasy. Softer edged and mystical.. Wisdom and compassion.
Terminator or Lord of the Rings.
Which one are we feeding?
One is just a version of what we have now, but with much better technology. The other is a different world that we need to imagine… that we need to create.
Control or creativity?
Eventually, inevitably we will realise that we are all inextricably connected.
Either this will happen via technology – we narrow our consciousness to become billions of independent people being fed and nurtured by one supercomputer. Structured and ordered. A virtual reality that never pushes our buttons. The computer is God.
Or, we become ‘one’ via our humanity – we expand our consciousness so that we can contain ALL OF IT… the joy, the bliss, the heartache, the loss, the disappointment, the fear, the jealousy and the rage. If we’re brave enough to feel it all, we can partner with the kind of creativity that creates worlds.
Will we choose the control of the Mind or the creativity of the Spirit?
Because creativity is energy, and energy refuses to be controlled. (E-motion alert!) It may sometimes get messy, but it knows how to access experiences of great intensity and moments of pure magic.
Which makes for a much more better story, don’t you think?
And possibly one more interesting than dropping a Quaalude and cuddling up with a droid.
We’re the only animal that fools itself….and knows it. Biology is destiny. Sometimes it’s comedy. Embrace your inner ape.