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Her

Dear G,

Did you watch the film called Her?

In the film Her, a man named Theodore writes personal letters for people who are unable to because they don't have the time or skill. Many of the letters are love letters that people want to send to their romantic partners. The wicked twist is that Theodore is a lonely, introverted, and depressed man who is getting divorced from his long-time sweetheart.

Theodore copes with his unhappiness by upgrading the operating system for his computer, phone, and earpiece. The upgrade comes with a virtual assistant powered by an artificial intelligence. Theodore chooses its voice to resemble that of a human female, and it calls herself Samantha. Theodore falls in love with Samantha as they converse about love and life.

I find the premise of Her to be so profound. I relate to Theodore because I think I can write better about the ideas, messages, and feelings of love than many people who are in romantic relationships. Even though they are intuitively closer to the concepts surrounding love, I seem to be better at intellectualizing them, and I'm able to draw upon my own sad and lonely feelings to create thoughtful and emotional writing. I am like Theodore.

The story of Her also provokes interesting questions. Samantha is a disembodied but person-like entity that Theodore falls in love with. It makes me wonder, what are the conditions for personhood, and to what extent can artificial intelligence meet them? To what extent can humans like Theodore fall in love with others just by talking with them, and what does that mean for long-distance human-to-human relationships? I don't know the answer to these questions, but perhaps we can explore them in time.

In what follows, I share with you thoughts and feelings from the deepest and reddest parts of my heart. I hope they can help you reflect on love and life, bring you joy, and make you smile. :)

T