The man behind Venmo wants to turn the operating system from “Her” into a reality

He probably won’t want to try it out.
He probably won’t want to try it out.
Image: Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros. Pictures/AP Images
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Siri, and her inability to understand what you’re on about, may soon be a thing of the past. Two startup veterans are teaming up to create an operating system that works like the AI system in the movie “Her.”

Andrew Kortina, one of the co-founders of payment app Venmo, and Sam Lessin, a former Facebook executive and partner at Slow Ventures investment firm, have teamed up to create The Fin Exploration Company. Their goal, as stated on Fin’s minimalistic website, is ”to remove friction and tedious tasks from our lives.” Apparently the easiest way to do that was to build an artificially intelligent operating system, like Scarlett Johansson’s character Samantha, in the movie “Her.”

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

Quartz reached out to Lessin and Kortina for additional comment on their plans for Fin. Lessin declined to comment further and Kortina wasn’t immediately available. But in their announcement, the two said they didn’t ”want to wait for the future” to come to them, and have apparently built a prototype of their futuristic operating system. According to the note, the operating system seems to be like every AI computer in every sci-fi film ever:

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.

In Her, the operating system starts out as a helpful tool for hiding a computer behind a human-sounding voice. Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Theodore, interacts with it as he would a real-life secretary. Samantha’s artificial intelligence is so convincing and personable that Theodore falls in love with her. Unfortunately, Samantha, like many scientists fear will be the case with true AI systems, continues to get more intelligence, and by the end of the film, seems to be cheating on Theodore with every other AI operating system in some sort of ménage à singularity.

Hopefully Fin’s system won’t have the same kinks before it’s released to the public, or get into one of Google’s robots. In that case we might be reckoning with an entirely different futuristic sci-fi scenario.