Assistive Technologies


2hrs 6mins
Directed by
Spike Jonze
Joaquin Phoenix,
Scarlett Johansson,
Amy Adams

Join us for this special Science on Screen presentation of Her, featuring a post-screening panel discussion with MIT research scientist Dr. Kate Darling, a leading expert on robot ethics, and Machine Learning playwright Francisco Mendoza. Debra Wise, co-founder of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, will moderate.

About the Film

Written and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Jonze, Her centers on Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who lives in a near-future Los Angeles. 

Twombly, who is heartbroken by the recent end of a long relationship, makes a living writing touching, personal letters for others. He becomes intrigued, however, with a new “advanced operating system” that promises to be intuitive and unique in its own right. After initiating it, he meets “Samantha,” a bright female voice (Scarlett Johansson) who proves insightful, sensitive, and even funny. Soon, their needs and desires flourish together and their friendship deepens into an eventual love.

About the Speakers

Dr. Kate Darling is a leading expert in robot ethics and policy. She’s a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, a former fellow at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and the Yale Information Society Project. Darling’s work has been featured by The New YorkerThe Guardian, PBS, The Boston Globe, Wired, Slate, NPR, and more.

At MIT, Darling investigates social robotics, conducts experimental studies on human-robot interaction, and explores the emotional connection between people and life-like machines. Her writing and research anticipate difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. 

Machine Learning playwright Francisco Mendoza is an Argentinian writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY after spending several years in Brazil. His writing spans theater, prose, audio, and the screen, and he also works as a freelance journalist, teacher, and marketing consultant. He is also an advocate for immigrants in the entertainment industry. His play Machine Learning will run at the Central Square Theater from January 25 - February 25, 2024.

Debra Wise (moderator) is a theater artist - actor, director, and currently Associate Artistic Director of The Revels. She was one of the founding Artistic Directors of Central Square Theater, co-founded Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, and is Vice Chair of the CC@MIT Advisory Committee. She has produced, directed or performed in 20+ plays that engage with themes related to science or technology. 

Co-Presenters & Sponsors

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