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Auggie review – watchable hi-tech satire doesn't quite know what to say

The Guardian

The face of American character actor Richard Kind – melancholy, hangdog, a little dyspeptic – is exactly right for this high-concept midlife satire from director and co-writer Matt Kane. It's a variation on a familiar theme the time is the near future and Kind plays Felix, an architect in his 60s who has been pushed out of the firm he helped build and is now at home grumpily adjusting to unwanted retirement. His busy wife and grownup daughter have no great need of him these days so poor, emasculated Felix takes comfort in his hi-tech retirement gift: a pair of "Auggie" glasses, through which the wearer can see an "augmented reality companion", a virtual-reality hologram of exactly the kind of submissively understanding person your subconscious wants to see – in Felix's case, an extremely attractive young woman (played by newcomer Christen Harper). Felix understands that this is just a projection, a geisha hallucination programmed to respond with the right answers and expressions. But inevitably he begins to fall in love with her, and toys with the "extra" that Auggie owners are invited to purchase: a pair of hi-tech underpants that will allow him to feel his Auggie companion intimately, while his wife is out all day at her prestigious job. This is a movie comparable to Spike Jonze's Her, in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with the Siri-type computer voice played by Scarlett Johansson, and Alex Garland's Ex Machina, in which Domhnall Gleeson is entranced by the AI robot played by Alicia Vikander; and like those films it creates a dreamy mood of indulgent comedy.


VR Pioneer Chris Milk: Virtual Reality Will Mirror Life Like Nothing Else Before

#artificialintelligence

"I don't think the future of VR looks like video games; I don't think it looks like cinematic VR; I think it looks like stories from our real lives. It's the most amazing afternoon you've ever had. For one person, it might be what we call a rom-com, for another it might be an action movie. For another, it might be something we don't have a movie genre preexisting for. It might be just exploring."


Kevin Kelly on the inevitable rise of virtual reality and artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

Our machines are getting smarter at a mind-bending pace. Tech writer Kevin Kelly, founder and former executive editor at Wired Magazine (his job title now is Senior Maverick), attempts to chart the future in his new book "The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future." In this interview with Ross Reynolds, Kelly explores two of those forces: virtual reality, which he says is creating the next evolution of the internet, and artificial intelligence, of which he writes "it's hard to imagine anything that'changes everything' as much as cheap, powerful, ubiquitous, artificial intelligence." He confronts the questions of whether virtual reality is too real for most users, whether the big companies that make artificial intelligence (Google and Amazon) will take advantage of their power, and now that we're dependent on these devices, what happens when the power goes out. Kelly has been on the forefront of technology journalism for 35 years.