#FutureFestival First Look: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence researchers Piotr Mirowski & Kory Mathewson are at The Marlborough for an evening of improvisation alongside their robotic co stars on the 2 – 3 June. We caught up with the pair to find out more about the show.

Book tickets for the show here

Can you tell us a little bit about your show, what can we expect?

Artificial Intelligence Improvisation is an improv comedy show where humans and machines collaborate to tell never-before-heard stories right in front of your very eyes. Human minds (Piotr Mirowski and Kory Mathewson, two lovely or creepy nerds: yup, that’s us!) and machine minds – specifically artificial intelligence software trained on dialogue from a hundred thousand films – work together to please and amaze audiences. One of the humans in the show is actually connecting remotely from Canada. The AI and the robot are real (we programmed them), the transatlantic connection is real (it could disconnect at any moment), the risks are real (but we know how to debug the system) and the emotions are all real too. You can expect to laugh, to cringe, or to cry, and maybe to even learn something about the past, present, and future of technology.

What makes your show different?

This is the only show where humans and robot performers improvise comedy together. There is no other show like it, it is as one of a kind as a snowflake or a fingerprint or a biometric retinal scan.

Who would enjoy seeing your show?

Our show is for all ages. If you love robots, you will see them succeed and love our show. If you hate robots, you will get to see their abundant limitations and love our show. If you are indifferent to robots, you will learn something new. If you have never heard of the term robot, here is a definition: “a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.”

What has been the best advice you have been given?

The founder of IBM said: “If you want to double your success rate, double your failure rate”. We work as scientists by day and performance artists by night and we take this advice very seriously: we all learn more from failure than from success. It is so true both in improvisation and in machine learning.

What does your work aim to address?

We explore what makes us human, what makes us different, and what makes us special. We also explore how creative storytelling changes when artificial intelligences are invited into the chaos.

Why did you choose to perform at The Marlborough?

We love the mission of the Marlborough Theatre. While, technically speaking, we both fit the racial and gender stereotypes of the nerdy techies, we are trying our best to be conscious about it and committed to make things change, and hope to break the moulds and to inspire peers to play with artificial intelligence and robotics in a creative way. If we have one thing in our favour, it is not to fit into the societal boxes of “engineer”, “actor”, “scientist” or “artist”: we have multiple passions that we pursue full-time and strive at bringing together.

What else are you excited about getting up to in Brighton?

Kory is looking forward to remotely watching Piotr sip warm ale and English tea while eating a scone and a fish-and-chips by the pier. Piotr is already rolling his eyes.


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