On the scene, like a sex-obsessed machine: when a robot writes a play | Theatre

Okazuo Ishiguro, whose new novel Klara and the Solar is about synthetic intelligence, has mentioned he’s anxious about a time when an AI programme is ready to write fiction “that may make me cry, that may present human feelings … that may have the capability for empathy”.

The first drama to be written by artificial intelligence reveals we’re a great distance from that future. Ninety per cent of its “autobiographical” materials has been generated from its depths whereas the remaining – human – touches are administered by a crew of pc scientists, theatre-makers and lecturers. A partnership between the Czech Centre in London and Prague’s Švanda theatre, it’s carried out in Czech with English subtitles.

Paradoxically, the first livestream is dogged by stops, begins and extended durations of buffering. These glitches include their very own schadenfreude – it’s unusually satisfying to know that even synthetic intelligence is just not proof against technical points on-line.

The most important revelation, although, is that whereas a pc’s creativeness touches, considerably randomly, on themes of affection, loneliness, clowning and efficiency, it’s most frequently obsessing about intercourse, which will not be stunning, given the prevalence of web pornography.


Directed by Daniel Hrbek, the drama has a robot protagonist at its centre, performed by Jacob Erftemeijer, who travels via nonsequitur scenes with the air of a glazed, modern-day Frankenstein, carrying the platform footwear of a basic zombie. His grasp, Viktor (simply as in Mary Shelley’s story), has died and he should deal with the human race alone. He meets largely sultry, suggestive girls who moan, gyrate, and throw themselves at his toes. It’s unusually paying homage to a middle-aged male fantasy, however with clunkier chat-up strains. “I want my binary self had a physique like that,” he says to at least one girl. He tells her she has lips like “heat honey” and says: “I’ll make like to you throughout your physique.”

There have been loads of powerfully drawn literary robots, aliens or artifical creatures prior to now who dwell in a state of romantic craving, from Shelley’s monster to Michel Faber’s alien in Underneath the Pores and skin and Ishiguro’s clones in By no means Let Me Go. This dramatic portrayal is just not almost as tender, profound or advanced; romantic subjectivity right here is uncouth and uninteresting. Possibly people are merely higher at imagining machines in love than the machines themselves.

AI: When a Robot Writes a Play.
Harking back to a middle-aged male fantasy … AI: When a Robot Writes a Play

One other scene options the robot with a man who drops his trousers and tells him, antagonistically: “You’ve bought a finger in my butt.” They stand dealing with one another on an nearly naked set and the situation has touches of Beckett, in its starkness, and Pinter too, in its unstated energy battle. However the dialogue finally ends up repeating itself and simply sounding absurd.

Questions on life, companionship and mortality are voiced however they appear like impassive musings with no sense of drama, depth or story, and the robot strikes on from one surreal scene to the subsequent, as if in a unhealthy dream.

Martin Šimek’s stage design combines an industrial panorama – iron gates or cage-like buildings and ground grating that resembles the post-human terrain of Blade Runner – with interstellar preparations of luminous circles or triangles in opposition to a black background.

It’s all pretty puzzling and fairly a aid when the hour is over. Additionally it is instructive: even when algorithms may also help us discover love, suggest the good guide on Amazon and appear to know us higher than we all know ourselves, a robot can’t write an unique or partaking play, at the least not but.

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