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“Her” inspired by Alicebot

Director Spike Jonez has released a new movie called “Her” about a guy (Jaoquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a Siri-like virtual assistant.  According to this article, he was inspired by talking to Alicebot about 10 years ago.,0,4625932.story

Though the film’s premise evokes comparisons to Siri, Jonze said he actually had the idea well before the Apple digital assistant came along, after using a program called Alicebot about ten years ago. As geek nostalgists will recall, that intriguing if at times crude software (it flunked the industry-standard Turing Test) would attempt to engage users in everyday chatter based on a database of prior conversations. Jonze liked it, and decided to apply a film genre to it. “I thought about that idea, and what if you had a real relationship with it?” Jonze told reporters. “And I used that as a way to write a relationship movie and a love story.”




  [ # 1 ]

Seems obvious the movie: I, Robot may have also been “inspired” by:

A. L. I. C. E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity)

in the Super Computer character played by Fiona Hogan:

V.I.K.I.  (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence)

The movie reused some of the character names from the I, Robot book collection by Isaac Asimov.  I suspect the name V.I.K.I was not one of them.  “Artificial” and “Virtual” have similar or related meanings, as do “Linguistic” and “Interactive”.


  [ # 2 ]

The New Yorker also has an article about this film called CAN HUMANS FALL IN LOVE WITH BOTS?

Following the première of “Her” at the New York Film Festival, in October, Jonze said that the idea originated from a program he tried about a decade ago called the ALICE bot, which engages in friendly conversation. The repartee is as about as gratifying as one can expect from a typical instant-messaging chat. (Human: “Do you like pizza?” ALICE: “Yes I like to eat pizza. My favorite topping is pepperoni.”) In the uncanny exchange, Jonze got to thinking about whether it’s possible to find true love with a computerized interlocutor.


  [ # 3 ]

That was quite well written. I’ve read about a case where a man did in fact unwittingly fall in love with a chatbot on an online dating site, so it’s not as fictional as one might think. I’m not expecting to see much in terms of AI in this movie.

On a tangent, quoted for truth:

A common first encounter with Siri, Apple’s virtual-assistant program: you lob her some easy questions and, satisfied with her replies, toss her requests of gradually increased difficulty. Maybe you throw her a curveball like, “What’s your relationship with your mother?” The game ends when you win, which is to say you reach the limits of Siri’s knowledge, get a laugh out of the misunderstanding, and find relief in the valley of intelligence that separates you from it.


  [ # 4 ]

And another mention…

The initial idea came from an article I saw online which talked about a site where you could instant message with artificial intelligence. I think it was called Alicebot. I went to it and said, “How are you?” It said, “How are you?” And I said “Not so good, I’m tired,” and it said, “That’s too bad.” So we had this little exchange and I got this buzz, thinking, “Wow I’m actually talking to this thing!” And then it quickly devolved; you could tell it was just parroting things that it had heard before and wasn’t actually intelligent. I didn’t really think about it for a long time, and then I thought about a man in a relationship with an entity like that and the idea of what would happen if you used that as a way to write a love story. I was making notes for this movie when I got the opportunity to make the short film, I’m Here. I guess the two are related in that they are both L.A. love stories, but that one is more of a love story that’s about love in your early ‘20s and what love is at that point in your life.



  [ # 5 ]

Congratulations on that reference, Richard. I wondered myself, as i watched it, whether he may’ve been inspired by Eilza or your fine work. Now we know smile

It really is a brilliant film and the computer science representation in it is quite believable for a somewhat near future AI.
Obviously, you have to suspend belief and accept a few conceits but mostly it’s quite workable stuff. The near future fashion is even subtly different in believable ways. We enjoyed it immensely (though his work is always fabulous). I’m usually somewhat critical of how computer tech and AI in particular are portrayed in movies. This seemed almost plausable (almost being the operative word) as some sort of cloud based AI system.

And now, knowing that your own lovely AI - smart enough in her own way, imho LOL - was the inspiration. Well that’s just icing on an already delicious cake!

Congrats and bravo. Btw, thanks for you excellent work on AIML and that knowledge base. It’s been very helpful in my own rewrite of one of my conversation simulators (Pandy). Saved me a lot of time and also gave me lots of wonderful surprises in working with her smile

All the best, sir.



  [ # 6 ]

Here is a Youtube video of a press conference featuring the director and cast of “Her”.  Spike Jonze mentions Alicebot in his reply to the first question.


  [ # 7 ]

Quite an interesting concept to think about. How ever, you would find me hard pressed to believe a story of someone falling in love with a chatbot. While I do think that Chatbots can emulate human conversation very well (Look at ALICE and Mitsuku) I find it hard to think of someone who could fall in love with their computer. Though I do believe that in the future it could be possible… I still think of it as a strange concept. I mean, you could say I “Love” my computer, but I’m certainly not “In Love” with it. But it’s still a neat thing to think about.


  [ # 8 ]
Joseph Hopkins - Jan 20, 2014:

I find it hard to think of someone who could fall in love with their computer.

You would be surprised at the amount of people talking to Mitsuku with marriage proposals and looking for a romantic relationship with her. Not just kids messing about but adults who are genuinely looking for love with her, knowing full well it is a computer program.


  [ # 9 ]

Fascinating, and kindd of strange too, don’t you think think Steve? People trying to ask their computer to marry them. I still do think it’s strange though. I mean how intimate can someone really get with a computer, especially knowing it was a computer? I mean you can’t “touch” them you can’t “Feel” them. It would be similar to a long distance relationship. I just find it kind of curious how many people would want a relationship with a computer… although the more I think about it, the more it makes sense… like how a computer wouldn’t ever really judge you on your looks. I suppose it does make sense but I still think it is kind of strange.


  [ # 10 ]

Oh I agree, it’s very strange and also kind of sad in a way. Many people talk to bots simply because they have nobody else to talk to. I notice this a lot from the elderly who are perhaps on their own without family. Many people return day after day to talk to her like a friend.

It’s a sad state of society when the only “person” someone has to talk to is a computer program. I guess if you talk to someone long enough and get to know them well, maybe romance is the next step?


  [ # 11 ]

I agree it is kind of sad… I find my self feeling bad for some of the people who are on there hours at a time to chat with my bot, but perhaps thats why they chat with them… bots can’t pity them, shame them, or judge them (unless, of course, they are programmed to do so.) But I suppose if it makes them feel less alone… that they have someone who cares for them, who has a right stop them, right?

It makes sense that once the person gets to know the bot, coming back day after day, in order to talk to them, then perhaps romace would come after that. I guess it’s kind of like going on dates with her until eventually… you just “Fall in Love.”


  [ # 12 ]

Of course you do realize that this is / was a movie? wink

Granted, the premise remains in a similar vein but there are a LOT of people who might rather chat with some"one” who is not or would not be judgmental or critical of them.
With the growing state of chatbots internal core and access to virtual unlimited knowledge from humor to romance, it’s no wonder that one could possible conceive of such a notion as demonstrated in the movie.

Too many peeple who might be bullied, lonely, sad, extremely private, might seek out and actually enjoy chatting with a good listener and decent conversationalist.

Why are there as many people chatting with chatbots as there are?

Why is there a site like this one catering to such a variety of personalities from all walks of life from all over the world and dealing with chatbots?

There are many really good books written by many learned professional scientists and researchers that detail and describe the future possibility of living with a virtual “mate”.

I’m just enjoying the ride and the continuing growth and achievement of bots, especially those that can learn. I’m not about to marry one unless it is a really good cook (and if my wife let’s me keep it!) wink.


  [ # 13 ]

Romance is no longer a future step. Not even marriage:


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