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Russia - Fall in love with intelligence: is it possible to have an affair with a neural network?

Russia (, - The influence of neural networks on our lives is difficult to overestimate: they are involved in forecasting, decision making, face recognition, data collection and analysis. They learned how to write pictures and texts, compose music, earn extra money as artists and TV presenters. Is it possible to fall in love with such a creature? And if the intelligence is artificial, does this mean that the feelings are not real? IPQuorum has prepared an unusual selection for Valentine's Day. We offer a list of films and series where the characters just have a romantic relationship with AI, and only those plots where it does not have an anthropomorphic physical shell have been selected.

Electric Dreams, 1984

Directed by Steve Barron. Cast: Lenny von Dohlen, Virginia Madsen

Filmmakers have been interested in artificial intelligence for a very long time (the first androids appeared in the cinema back in the 20s, for example, in Fritz Lang's immortal film "Metropolis" (1927)), so the romantic relationship between a person and a neural network did not begin to form yesterday. But if we take stories where the AI ​​in love is devoid of a body, then one of the pioneers in this territory was Steve Barron's Electric Dreams project.

The main character is a classic loser, hired by some office as a whipping boy. The authorities wipe their feet on him and overwhelm him with work, and pretty girls pass by and don’t even turn around. Everything changes when Miles learns about the existence of computers (don't laugh, it's the mid-1980s!). The guy buys one of them because he needs an au pair: the developers promise the car will open and close the doors, make coffee and turn on the alarm clock. However, the piece of iron from the very first day begins to be self-willed. And after Miles unscheduledly treats her with champagne (the guy did not have water on hand to eliminate the smoke), the car completely flies off the coils.

Due to contact with a foamy drink, a short circuit occurs, after which the computer begins to awaken consciousness. Interestingly, this awakening is associated with art and creativity: the device, barely alive after alcohol, reacts to the sounds of the cello that are heard from behind the wall, and begins to compose something of its own in response. Only after that does he learn to speak and ask questions that no screenwriter can pass by when developing a story about an artificial creature that has gained consciousness: what does it mean to feel and what is love?

At the same time, the newly-minted AI behaves very freely: either it imitates the behavior of a bitch wife, calling Miles at work and rolling up scenes of jealousy, or it turns on the mode of a difficult teenager, turning on the music at full volume in the middle of the night. True, the AI’s love interest does not arise with the owner, but with his beautiful cellist neighbor, with whom the guy begins a relationship. And here's what's important: the authors of the film either could not give mutual love to AI, or did not want to, so the neural network is forced to withdraw itself so as not to interfere with people. Thus, the scriptwriters failed to unravel the Gordian knot that they themselves tied - and they simply cut it.

"Her", 2013

Directed by Spike Jones. Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt

In the Spike Jones film "Her", the relationship between a human and a self-learning AI is developed in more detail. However, in this case, the neural network also does not have a corporeal shell, and therefore the novel turns out to be specific.

At the center of this story is a certain Theodore, who lives in a world of false confessions: he writes letters on behalf of clients, in which he confesses his love, regrets quarrels, asks for forgiveness, etc. Of course, his personal life does not add up, because he is an introvert and is not ready for a sincere relationship in principle. Therefore, he buys the perfect computer assistant, which always adapts to the owner. At the same time, he does not think about any love: he just needs to talk to someone at night. And the operating system, which called itself Samantha, is not going to flirt with him at all. Moreover, she finds a potential lover for him on a dating site.

However, all attempts by Theodore to have a flesh-and-blood partner fail. As a result, he has no choice but to complain to Samantha about life, and gradually his whining reaches a degree of frankness unprecedented for an introvert. These conversations become the cornerstone of the relationship, because never before has our hero felt comfortable communicating with a girl. Samantha tried to understand what emotions, sex and love are, therefore, quite sincerely (as it seemed to herself and Theodore) she fell in love with him.

Thus, here we are already dealing with the mutual sympathy of a person and AI. However, what to do with this love, the writers again did not come up with. Therefore, the operating system has simply developed to the stage when it no longer needs a person, it found another neural network for itself and disappeared into space with it.

"Protagonist" (Free Guy), 2021

Directed by Shawn Levy. Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi

Mutual sympathy between a neural network and a person is also born in the "Protagonist" - a box office hit last year.

In the center of the plot is a non-player character of a popular shooter who doesn't even have a name. His name is simply "guy". The poor fellow is programmed for optimism: he enjoys every day, a glass of cheap coffee and bank robbers (who, however, arrange raids almost every hour). The limit of his dreams is cool sneakers and beer after work. In general, he is no different from other inhabitants of the computer city, except for a tiny anomaly that somehow magically crept into the program - he wants to find a girlfriend. In principle, characters of his level should not have desires of this kind.

The bug turns out to be fatal. The guy runs into the avatar of one of the players named Molotov-girl, and the meeting becomes a catalyst for the awakening of consciousness. By the way, it is interesting that in this case, as in "Electric Dreams", everything also started with music: the guy first heard his favorite song, which Molotov-girl hummed under her breath, and only then paid attention to it. After that, the poor fellow begins to quietly rebel: he changes the style of his shirt, asks for a cappuccino instead of regular coffee in a coffee shop (which makes the barista stupor), and then completely appropriates the black glasses of one of the players, after which he becomes a full participant in computer lawlessness. And of course, he develops a relationship with the daring and fearless Molotov-girl.

True, at first the question arises why a pretty girl of flesh and blood needed a novel of this kind. But here everything is simple. Firstly, Mili did not immediately realize that she was facing an NPC (that is, a non-player character): she was sure that this was an avatar of some cool guy who, like her, exists in reality. Secondly, the "boyfriend" helped her solve the problem that brought her into the game. And, thirdly, he behaved like the man of her dreams: he loved the same songs as she, treated her to ice cream, which she adored, rocked her on a swing, etc. In real life, Mili never had such coincidences, so the affair with the neural network became for her something like an escape from reality.

Be Right Back, 2013

Directed by Owen Harris. Cast: Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleason

Another AI romance that emerged as an alternative to reality can be found in I'll be right back, which opens the second season of Black Mirror. (In principle, there are several similar stories, but we will only talk about one of them.)

So, before us is an ordinary couple living together: a pretty girl Martha and Ash - a guy with a rather nasty character who always gets to the bottom of something. They love each other, but if you look at their relationship soberly, then they are unlikely to succeed in “living happily and dying on the same day”. Ash and Martha will most likely split up in a couple of years. Be that as it may, His Majesty the case intervenes in their story: a guy crashes in a car. To death.

Sobbing Martha is offered an alternative: to replace the real Ash with a computer one. It looks quite innocent: artificial intelligence analyzes all the information about him, collected on social networks, and then starts sending messages on his behalf. First text, then voice. The girl tries to resist, but quickly gives up - and soon becomes a victim of virtual communication. There is a substitution: AI replaces the real person. True, this does not last long: the new version of Ash turns out to be too accommodating - he can neither say nasty things nor throw a scandal.

And by the way, pay attention: this time the writers find a way out of the love relationship between a human and AI. Oddly enough, but this happens exactly when the neural network acquires a physical shell. Martha simply locks the digital Ash in the attic and only visits him on big holidays. The solution, of course, is so-so, but it's better than nothing.

Upload, 2020

Showrunner Greg Daniels. Cast: Robbie Amell, Andy Allo

A separate group of films and series are projects where people who have lost their physical shell become a neural network. Their mind, of course, is not of artificial origin, but digitized consciousness cannot exist without the help of operating systems, and these characters no longer have a physical shell, and this brings them closer to AI.One of the most striking projects of this kind was the series "Loading", in which science fiction rhymes with rom-com, and detective elements - with invectives about the essence of big business. The central character of this story is the computer scientist Nathan - a broken guy who rides motorcycles and is experiencing a stormy romance with a beautiful heiress of a multi-million dollar fortune. However, at the behest of a suddenly enraged car, the guy gets into an accident and goes straight to heaven. Paradise, by the way, has another name - it is the elite Lake View service, a kind of virtual space where the digitized human consciousness will live forever. True, pleasure is not cheap, and the quality of afterlife bliss directly depends on the chosen tariff, and the tariff depends on the amount of money in the deceased's wallet.

The fact that without money heaven easily turns into hell, Nathan checks on his own skin. In addition, he begins to suspect that his death was a banal murder - and the matter was clearly not without the intrigues of the bride's bitch. But the worst thing is that the poor fellow suddenly falls in love, and with an ordinary flesh-and-blood girl who works in the support service. He receives from her what he has never seen from his official mistress - sympathy and help. True, they can communicate only in virtual space, hiding from the angry management of the service and the angry bride. But their relationship turns out to be unexpectedly strong - and the most reliable of all those that we have just talked about.

This and many other materials are available on the website of ©IPQuorum, the first publication in Russia about creative industries and intellectual property. IPQuorum is a new format for the work of an international brand that has been organizing all the brightest events in the world of intellectual property and creative industries in Russia since 2017, including the LegalTech market and the sphere of development institutions. IPQuorum professes an evidence-based editorial policy and shows with reliable facts and destinies that today innovations arise at the intersection of different ideas and industries.

Russia - Fall in love with intelligence: is it possible to have an affair with a neural network?