The 2013 science fiction film Her, directed by Spike Jonze and starring  Joaquin Phoenix, depicted a world in which a man could fall in love with his virtual assistant. Well, now that virtual assistants are getting better and more personable by the year, it’s fair to ask: Could this happen in real life? 

To answer that question, Lex Fridman delivered the question directly to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, a frequent prognosticator on the future of artificial intelligence. Musk’s answer may be chilling for some, and cause for celebration for others. 

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“I think AI will be capable of convincing you to fall in love with it very well… From a physics standpoint, essentially if it [the AI] loves you in a way that you can’t tell whether it’s real or not, it is real,” said Musk. “If there’s no test that you can apply that would allow you to tell the difference, then there is no difference.” 

So there you have it. A 21st century technology expert of the highest order believes we’ll likely play out the scenario from Her in the coming years. Wrap your love muscles around that. 

Later in the interview, when asked what he would ask a super intelligent AI that surpassed all human knowledge and ability, Musk did not disappoint with his answer. He said he’d ask, “What’s outside the simulation.” (Look here if you don’t already know what Musk is referring to.) 

Incidentally, Musk is about to reveal his new Tesla Cybertruck on November 21. (He even tweeted an image that is a slight tribute to a scene in Bladerunner, although we’re fairly certain the new truck can’t fly.)

You can watch the full interview here


Cover image via Elon Musk/Instagram