At the heart of Ex Machina and Her are instructive parables about how technology interacts with our inner, emotional lives.
Sometimes, talking to Siri can feel real because she seems to "know" intimate details about our lives. Artificial intelligence researchers are pushing boundaries in teaching computers to understand and react to human emotion. Once artificial intelligence is advanced enough, it may start to seem like a computer really feels your pain and can empathize with you.
A recent survey of 12,000 users of the digital assistant app Assistant.ai found that nearly 40 percent of people said they could imagine falling in love with their virtual assistant and another quarter said that maybe they could.
So a majority of those surveyed could imaging a future in which their relationship with Siri gets hot and heavy. Maybe this isn't that surprising. Already, humans are connecting with our digital comrades in intimate ways. People pay for texts from invisible boyfriends and girlfriends and millions in China turn to a Microsoft chatbot for a sympathetic ear.
Ex Machina director Alex Garland thinks that it's okay if we all wind up falling for our machines.
“The thing that we value in each other is our minds,” he told Yahoo in an interview. “You could have a very beautiful tree but if someone said, ‘We’re going to kill a human or cut down that beautiful tree,’ you’d say ‘OK, cut down that tree.’ If you had a beautiful machine that you found aesthetically pleasing and it was sentient, why not? Fall in love, sure.”
For now, though, we're not sexually frustrated by our digital only relationship with AI assistants, we're just frustrated by them. Almost 60 percent of those surveyed said they had cursed at their virtual assistant.