(p. C4) LONDON — One recent evening at a London pub, Piotr Mirowski, 39, stood in front of several dozen comedy fans to prove that an artificially intelligent computer program could perform improvised comedy.
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Despite all the improvements, Mr. Mirowski said working with an A.I. was still like having a “completely drunk comedian” on stage, who was only “accidentally funny,” by saying things that were totally inappropriate, overly emotional or plain odd.
“Robots are in a way the antithesis of theater and comedy,” he said. “Theatre is about the human expression on stage, and it’s about the communication and empathy between the actors and the audience. Robots do not have the sensors to perceive any of that.”
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During the show on Wednesday, Mr. Mirowski performed several different scenes using the A.I. None were anywhere near as successful as the one involving the couple going for a drive. The climax of the show involved four members of Mr. Mirowski’s improv troupe, Improbotics Ltd., performing a scene involving a fictional president, his chief of staff and an office cleaner.
The audience had to guess which actor was controlled by the A.I. The answer became clear soon after the cleaner took to the stage. “I’m a communist!” she said, completely out of the blue. Later, she performed a U-turn. “I’m not a communist!” she said. Then, out of nowhere she asked another member of the troupe, “Look, do you wanna buy a knife?”
For the full story, see:
Alex Marshall. “Hey, That Robot Seems to Think It’s a Comedian.” The New York Times (Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018): C4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 8, 2018, and has the title “A Robot Walks Into a Bar. But Can It Do Comedy?”)