How do you know if the person you’re talking to online is real and not a chatbot? The smarter the artificial intelligence behind the robots becomes, the harder it is to make a distinction. Members of the theater and performance company Ontroerend Goed (the Dutch play on words could roughly be translated as “Feel Estate”) recently had a conversation with a chatbot, which for a long time was indistinguishable from a “real” conversation. Then, out of the blue, the AI asked them if they like to eat purple penguins.
Ten years ago the theater collective made a triptych of one-on-one performances. In Artificial: Room One, they return to this idea, but this time the participants are not two people, but a person and a machine. You’re invited to have an individual conversation with an AI to teach it how to become more human, or to explain what it means to be human. Can the two of you develop an emotional relationship? And to what extent is this machine capable of evoking human emotions?
Artificial: Room One is co-commissioned by the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio and IDFA DocLab.