Venmo Creator Is Building Samantha from ‘Her’

In the 2013 film Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, a lonely man falls in love with a sentient operating system named Samantha. Now, Samantha might just become a reality, as Andrew Kortina, the co-founder of Venmo, and Sam Lessin, a former executive at Facebook, have teamed up to create an artificial intelligence that explicitly models itself after fictional AIs like Samantha.

Opening quote
“Mobile devices are extremely powerful, but apps are a crude method of interaction,” Lessin and Kortina said in a statement. “In sci fi, people just talk to machines like they talk to people. That is the future.

We don’t want to wait for the future. We want something like the OS from Her today.”

Closing quote

Siri can occasionally seem like a “real person,” mostly as a result of funny answers that have been programmed into her operating system by flesh-and-blood humans, but most of the time she only barely understands what we’re talking about. In creating the Fin Exploration Company, Lessin and Kortina aim to create an AI that can not only spit out a humorous one-liner in response to existential questions, but will have feelings, thoughts, and existential crises of its own. They’re aiming to create a mechanical human being, essentially like every fictional AI ever, and according to their statement, their initial prototype is already a huge step towards that goal:

Opening quote
“After interacting with Fin for a few weeks, I’ve been surprised to find that it does not feel like software. Fin feels like a person – actually, it feels like a multiplicity of people, almost like a city…

Fin grows and learns. Fin has an opinion. Fin surprises me and challenges me. Talking to Fin is a real conversation, not just a query and response or command dispatch.”

Closing quote

As of now, there’s no corroboration that they have created a human-like operating system, as the project is still in its initial stages and searching for engineers. And it’s unclear whether the above quotation is a description from the innovators themselves, or whether it’s a response from a tester. But either way, the project looks extremely promising, and could potentially bring us an AI that has her own emotions, agenda, and goals, a la Samantha.

It’s also interesting that the prototype appears to be a “multiplicity of people,” rather than a single person. The above clip from Her sees Samantha address the central conflict of the film: Theodore is limited to a decaying human body while she can exist in many locations and have many different experiences at once. In this sense, Her may not only be insightful about the nature of human relationships, but about the future of AI as well.

Via Quartz.

Source: Venmo Creator Is Building Samantha from ‘Her’

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