Czech Researchers Teaching Robots to Write a Stage Play

A play written entirely by artificial intelligence is expected to premiere next January.

Researcher Rudolf Rosa of Charles University said his team is working together with Svanda Theater and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague on the project, dubbed THEaiTRE.

Rosa said the idea was suggested by entrepreneur Tomas Studenik as a means of celebrating the 100th anniversary of R.U.R., aka Rossum’s Universal Robots, a 1921 play by Karel and Josef Capek that is credited with originating the term “robot.”

The main limiting factor at the moment is that the existing model has not yet been trained to produce performance-suitable scripts, so the plan is for researchers to “feed” the AI with plays for it to learn from.

The model essentially takes a small chunk of existing text (in this case, Čapek’s original play) and then is “inspired” to create further lines, themes and ideas.

“Tomas thought that this should be properly celebrated and came up with the idea of turning the story around: 100 years ago, a man wrote a theater play about robots; what if today, robots wrote a theater play about men?” Rosa said.

He said the team is working with artificial intelligence models that were previously successful in generating pieces of text, including poetry and dialogue.

“Thanks to the approaching anniversary, our main target is clear and fixed: by January 2021, we need to have a play ready for premiere,” Rosa said.

He said the team is aiming to have a script finished in September to give the theater group time to turn it into a full-fledged production.

Even if the A.I. doesn’t generate this thing from scratch and even if its first effort is ultimately imperfect, people will still be trying to perform its robotically written production once it’s finished.

They’ve even cut a little trailer. Take a look:


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