Can a machine play? AI, Theatre, and Improvisation

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These improvised performances represent an ongoing research collaboration between Jim Dennen, Asst. Professor of Theatre at Denison University, and Jon Chun & Kate Elkins, co-founders of the {K}DH Digital Humanities Colab at Kenyon College.  We are working to develop a live production offering both a meditation on creativity and a critique of human-machine interaction. The artificial intelligence is performed by DivaBot, conceived and constructed by Jon Chun using GPT-2* technology. The human intelligence is improviser, Lauren Katz. DivaBot’s responses are read aloud by Kate Elkins. And the production (in progress) is being directed by Jim Dennen.
 
To the best of our knowledge, this is the world's first public demonstration of a human performer improvising live with an artificial intelligence based on current state-of-the-art computer language generation.
 
This recording is being made publicly available on the 100th anniversary of the premiere of “,” by Czechoslovakian playwright Karel Capek. “” (for “Rossum’s Universal Robots”) opened on January 25th, 1921, at the National Theater of Prague and marks the first use of the word “robot,” coined by Capek and derived from the Czech word for “forced labor.”  
 
The video has been edited to compress pauses while we move to a more powerful computer platform, but all responses were generated in the moment by DivaBot.
 
Funding was provided by the Denison University Research Foundation, Kenyon College, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
 
* GPT-2 is one of a class of Deep Neural Network Architectures, known as Transformers, with up to billion connections, which use Attention mechanisms to selectively focus and make intelligent connections over longer ranges of text than was previously possible. Training on millions of human documents, this language model can condense written knowledge and human experience to perform improvisation as well as other general language tasks like reasoning, storytelling, and translation.

Chapters:
0:00 Introduction
1:42 "coffee shop moment"
6:35 "bad doctor"
9:30 "canoe trip"
14:15 Credits
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