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1 the Road

Back in 2016, an AI wrote a movie script. Fast forward to last year, when another AI took it upon itself to write a novel, 1 the Road.

The 2016 movie, Sunspring, was written by Benjamin, a long short term memory recurrent neural network. Sunspring was somewhat confusing, but if you want to watch it, it’s available in the post I wrote about the movie. Benjamin has since retired, at least his website now belongs to a non-artificial Benjamin1.

Since AIs don’t reliably create new AIs – yet – Benjamin was the brain child of a human, Ross Goodwin. Goodwin describes himself as a “creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and writer of writers,” who uses technology to create works of art. In 2018, he set out on another adventure. Goodwin hocked a camera, a GPS, and a microphone to a computer, placed everything in a car, and went on a road trip from New York to New Orleans.

Using input from the camera, GPS, microphone, and the computer’s internal clock, a neural network would then narrate the entire trip. A printer in the back seat printed a hard-copy of story as it progressed.

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Benjamin is a system-on-chip computer. He runs a long short term memory recurrent neural network. And he knows how to write screenplays. Benjamin’s creators, filmmaker Oscar Sharp and technologist Ross Goodwin, force fed him with dozens of different 1980s and 90s sci-fi screenplays they found online. Benjamin then dissected everything, and learned to predict which letters tended to follow each other and from there which words and phrases tended to occur together.

With this knowledge, Benjamin wrote Sunspring, and Oscar Sharp turned the AI’s screenplay into a movie for the annual Sci-Fi London film festival. Will artificial intelligence put Hollywood screen writers out of work anytime soon? Judge for yourself.

Personally, I think the answer is “no”. This thing is wildly incoherent, and most of it doesn’t make much sense. At least not as a sci-fi movie. As one of those artsy movies, perhaps, because Benjamin’s work is certainly open to interpretation. Or, has he created something that we humans haven’t evolved to a high enough intellectual level to fully understand?

Mind blown! Ars Technica has more details.

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