I don’t think my job as a writer of science fiction is in imminent danger, but to be fair, I’ve probably watched worse films on the SyFy channel than Sunspring, the first AI written movie.
Written as a competition response to the the 48-Hour Film Challenge, there were a few prompts fed into an AI programme that named itself “Benjamin”, and a whole bunch of 80s and 90s sci-fi. Enjoy, we’ll get to the analysis later.
Sunspring, the first AI-written science fiction movie
Sunspring by “Benjamin” (see https://www.docdroid.net/lCZ2fPA/sunspring-final.pdf.html for the screenplay)
The interesting thing for me about this is not so much the AI’s fairly ropey gibberish, but rather the moving nature of humans acting and interpreting it. You feel almost like you understand. This is producing a much stronger Uncanny Valley effect for me than any android.
It’s like that dream, you know, the one where your neurons get a bit crossed and you know that people are speaking in a language you’re supposed to understand but you’ve no idea what they’re saying. Or, you’re trying to tell them something important but the words are all wrong. You know it’s there somewhere but get frustrated by your failure to communicate.
For other examples of this weird effect, see How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers. As for myself, I’ve had dreams where I can speak fluent French (mine’s basic at best) as well. So not only is there a “reading facial expressions” element, there seems to be some sort of underlying language wiring in our brains that makes us believe we should understand it. Perhaps this is what spurs babies to first learn what their parents are saying?
They decided one AI-authored screenplay wasn’t enough
The follow-up It’s No Game, features David Hasselhoff as a human slaved to Benjamin, forced to spout his words.
It’s No Game by Benjamin 2.0 and some humans.
This time the writing was a human / AI collaboration, detectable by most of it making some sort of sense, (loved the Hoff’s Baywatch shorts, by the way). Benjamin (2.0) is credited with some of the speech, but also the choreography. In addition, they’ve used a Shakespeare-fed AI and the “Sorkinator” to produce different, and sometimes hilarious results, among others.
Does this spell doom for human writers?
Due to the fairly unintelligible results of the purely AI stuff, I’m still not that worried, but there is probably a time soon when meaningless gibberish that’s autogenerated will actually be a saleable commodity, especially if humans collaborate. I’m not entirely sure some of the soap storylines or “enhanced reality” shows of our day (TOWIE, Real Housewives of any particular place) aren’t already produced by algorithms.
But fret not. From what I can see, you’ll always need humans to make the words… human.