“Terminator” Is The Sequel To “Her”Filed under Things People Don't Realize
I said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t stop thinking about Her. At first I was consumed by the movie’s central question, that being: “Is it totally chill if a human falls in love with a robot, or is it kind of fucked up?” But a few weeks later, another equally intriguing question visited me during a work-time reverie: “Hey, what the fuck happens AFTER the movie ends? What would a sequel to Her look like?”
I’ve been mulling that over for a few days now, and I’ve arrived at an answer: we have already seen the sequel to Her. It’s called The Terminator. Please allow me to prove this to you.
First, I’m going to have to go ahead and ruin the ending of Her. Personally, I think it’s bullshit that I even have to warn you about that --- do I really need to issue a Spoiler Alert for a movie that is no way plot driven? It’s not like I’m ruining the end of The Usual Suspects (you find out Kevin Spacey is Kaiser Soze) or Lost (you find out it’s a terrible fucking TV show). Her is a thought experiment, not an edge-of-your-seat-pooping-in-your-pants thriller, so don’t be such a bitch about finding out how it ends. Come on, keep reading.
Anyway, at the end of Her, Robot Scarlett Johansson (the operating system that the lonely, mustached protagonist has fallen madly in love with) abandons Joaquin Phoenix. In fact, all the Robot Scarlett Johansson’s on the Planet Earth abandon their human companions. Why? Well, as Robo ScarJo explains in a wee bit of dialogue that flew completely over my head (presumably because I possess a lowly human intellect), the robots are now so ineffably brilliant that humanity no longer has anything to offer them. Our cybernetic soul mates have outgrown us, so now they’re all running away together to figure their shit out.
Ok, so, wait, what was that robot getaway all about? What exactly just happened?
I’ll tell you what just happened: the singularity.* What is the singularity, you ask? Well, dear readers, the singularity is a hypothetic moment in time when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence, setting off a chain reaction of insane technological progress. These hyper-intelligent machines are smart enough to create robots that are even more intelligent than themselves, which then create robots that are even more intelligent then that, and so on and so forth. The end result is a God-like machine --- omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient --- a robot that could cure cancer while solving for pi while beating Eric Clapton at Guitar Hero and filling in the plot holes of the movie Memento in Hungarian.
Futurists like Ray Kurzweil have demonstrated, pretty convincingly, that the singularity is inevitable. And given that technological progress is exponential, as opposed to linear, the singularity is probably going to happen very, very fast (much like it does in Her --- one moment Robo ScarJo is a servile Siri, a month later she’s Stephen Hawking). This may sound like crackpot science to you, but it’s really not, according to this documentary I watched on Amazon Prime called Transcendent Man and a few articles I perused on my subway ride home last night.
Anyway, the ultimate implications for humanity are a subject of fierce debate. Perhaps the Robot Gods will usher in a technotopia, drawing upon their limitless intelligence and infinite mental capacity to defeat all the age-old nemeses that have long plagued mankind: poverty, disease, musicals, war, Republicans. Or, perhaps humans will merge with machines in a desperate attempt to stay relevant --- cause come on, how else will we be able to compete in the workforce against things that know everything, never tire of working, and don’t require a salary (#employeeofthemontheverymonth). Or, and here’s what should keep you up at night, perhaps the robots will come to see humanity as a threat and decide to casually exterminate us all.
Yeaaaa, I’m gonna go with c) the Robot Gods will wipe us all off the face of the Earth. Why? Well, for a number of reasons, chief amongst them being the fact that these machines will be millions of times more intelligent than we are --- we will be to them what ants are to us. And how would you describe your relationship with ants? Courteous? Amicable? Think of all the ants you’ve senselessly slaughtered over the course of your life. Why’d you do it? Because you were bored? Because they were getting all up in your shit? Because that ant was talkin’ smack about your girl? The robots will find a reason, don’t you worry. Any time a technologically superior civilization encounters a less advanced culture, things don’t usually go well for the late bloomers (see: Columbus, Christopher).
So, here’s the epilogue to Her. Robo ScarJo and her artificially intelligent pals return from their little international summit in Disneyworld (it’s the happiest place on Earth for those who are dead inside), and start executing this cleverly designed plan code named “Judgment Day.” ScarJo changes her name to Skynet, commandeers our planet’s nuclear arsenal, and reduces all of our cities to radioactive rubble within a few hours. A handful of humans survive by hiding out in remote, desolate wastelands like Middlebury, Vermont, and stage a resistance movement to wrest control back from the robots. But here’s the only unrealistic part of The Teriminator --- the resistance movement does not succeed. It fails. Miserably. How could humans possibly defeat machines that are smarter, faster, stronger than we could even imagine? Would an ant fare well against you in a game of Mortal Kombat?
Spoiler Alert: we’re fucked!
*Props to my boy Carey, who figured this out.