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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Oscar season is over but I can’t get Spike Jonze’s Her out of my head. I’m a known sucker for the sci-fi genre, no matter how campy or overwrought, but I have a soft spot for a subtle treatment. Her is the story of Theo, a man living in the not so distant future, and his relationship with his operating system, represented by a female voice called “Samantha”.

The environment of the future, as imagined by Jonze, isn’t the silver lame and jet-pack jammed world of the future we are used to seeing, instead it differs only slightly from our own. Technology, instead of being the focus of our future lives, has faded into the fabric of our everyday existence. It is obvious only in its invisibility. Even the desktop computer, which hasn’t gone extinct, has morphed into an object that transcends functionality and looks just as stately as the leather-bound volumes it accompanies in the still above. Tasks are completed with a word or a tap, not a lengthy sequence of gestures and apps and devices.

 

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

 

A recent article in Wired detailed how the production designer, KK Barrett, decided how the film would look. On the lack of obvious future tech he says, “We decided that the movie wasn’t about technology, or if it was, that the technology should be invisible,” Instead, the future world is more focused on the needs of actual humans, taking many current ideas of human-centered design to new conclusions. “It’s a world where the pendulum has swung back the other direction, where a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isn’t an end in itself–that it’s the real world we’re supposed to be connecting to.”

 

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Overall, it wasn’t the intelligent, adaptable operating system that blew me away, but the little things. Samantha easily syncs with all of Theo’s devices, lights turn on as Theo moves from room to room. Doors and curtains open when needed. In short, our attentions are no longer focused on the small necessities of life, but we have more room to play and think and dream.

Films like Blade Runner and Minority Report blew us away with the technology that they imagined, but frankly, I’d rather live in a world not just overrun with technology, but a world where technology enables things to just work.