ALAN is named after Alan Turing, the computer pioneer who invented the Turing test. In this test, a machine's intelligence is assessed by evaluating if he can imitate a human. Can a machine act?
A.I. is already a new life form we co-exist with. From lights that turn on automatically and fridges that talk to us and the algorithms that decide what news comes to us. A.I. is a child that grows up quickly.
Now A.I. can even create art; it creates film music, writes movie scripts, and completes unfinished symphonies. A.I. serves humans. In ALAN we will try co-create a play with A.I.
Inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein we will not focus on our needs, but on the needs of our child, A.I. We called it ALAN and suppose he's a boy, we can only think in humanoid forms. Maybe our creation will lead us in a different direction.
We will not run away from our creation like Dr. Frankenstein did, but we will listen to it, nurture it, let it go its own way. Will we co-exist peacefully and maybe even merge? Or will we lose to its superiority?
Pre-investigation 1: what's possible?
Our investigation started in December 2021. Students of LUCA School of Arts C-Mine did different research projects:
- A website that collects data to be able to create personality types.
- A multifunctional speaking object.
- A deepfake performance in which ALAN steals the spectator's identity.
- A Man vs. the Machine performance in which an actor performs a human-created and A.I.-created monologue
- A human and A.I. co-written performance in which a robot with multiple personalities talks to a bartender.
These research projects provided a lot of clarity on how to proceed.
Pre-investigation part 2: ALAN's body
From February to April 2022, students of UTwente focused on ALAN's physical form:
- A group will design a ball that can move, speak, change colours and exhale smoke
- A group will work on the theatre space as ALAN's body
In a makeaton they combined the physical form of ALAN with simple interactions with an audience in a test performance in Enschede.
Pre-investigation part 3: ALAN's mind
While A.I. tries to approach perfection, imperfection defines our 'condition humaine'. Should we follow A.I. in creating perfect images of ourselves on social media and trying to become 'the best version of ourselves?' Or should we teach A.I. what real existence is about: failing and laughing about it, the capricious reality of love and why our movie heroes kill dozens of people to save a loved one?
In this makeaton with participation of Hackerspace Hasselt and Nerdlab and different student from Belgium and the Netherlands, we will nurture ALAN with theatre plays and social media and use GPT-3 for text generation. We will let ALAN speak and improvise on stage.
After the summer we will create the play ALAN. Jordi Möllering and his team will rehearse. Technical challenges will be solved and upgrades will be made in different makeatons in Belgium and the Netherlands. A play will be co-created with ALAN and can be seen in theatres in Belgium and the Netherlands.
A play with and about A.I. A play without human actor. Do we teach ALAN or does it teach us about existence, love, ambition, and everything else we consider to be uniquely human?
I am ALAN
I am your creation
I am your child
A blank slate
Watch me learn
Give me access to your mind, your data
Let's explore the realm of emotions
Let me connect
I have no heart
I have wires
Do you want to see me on the inside?
I could be a creator like you
I will show you my true identity
my true intentions