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Internationally Recognized Improvisers And AI Researchers Perform With Artificially Intelligent Improvisers

Piotr Mirowski, of London, England, and Kory Mathewson, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, join together as artificial intelligence researchers and improv theatre artists to put on a newly devised, original improv show with robots they have coded themselves.

Mirowski and Mathewson both work as AI researchers during the day and perform improvisational theatre at night in their respective hometowns of London and Edmonton. They’ve performed together in the past, but always via Google Hangouts across different continents (https://humanmachine.live/binary2, https://humanmachine.live/long-distance-relationship/)

Mathewson is a cast member with Rapid Fire Theatre and performs improv regularly in Edmonton, as well as around the world at improv festivals. Mirowski improvises regularly in London and was a member of New York-based volunteer improv charity Cherub Improv. The two have joined forces to form HumanMachine, an artistic collective dedicated to technically advanced improvisational theatre.

The two essentially met through their robots, Pyggy (short for Pygmalion) and A.L.Ex (an acronym for Artificial Language Experiment). Both were simultaneously developing artificial improvisers when Mirowski heard about a show Mathewson performed in Edmonton alongside Pyggy in April 2016 at an experimental improv theatre festival.

“I was working on training neural networks to create an improv show with a disembodied AI. I reached out to Kory as soon as I read about his work,” Mirowski said.

The two decided to collaborate, formally introduce their AI improv partners, and all four became fast friends. They’ve worked together and shared both science and comedy for a year, and have experimented with long distance shows.

Mirowski has done more than 20 shows with A.L.Ex in London over the last year, including at the British Academy and at the Shoreditch Improv Festival. Mathewson has done several shows with Pyggy as well, in Edmonton. Both have performed together in the world’s first transatlantic AI improv show, simultaneously held at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London, England and at the Curious Comedy Theatre in Portland, Oregon on 31 March and 1 April 2017 (https://humanmachine.live/binary2), and have followed-up that feat at the Brighton Fringe Festival on 21 May 2017, performing simultaneously at the Broadway Lounge in Brighton, England, and in the Silicon Valley.

A.L.Ex. and Pyggy are trained to be improvisers using deep neural networks, machine learning techniques, and a database of hundreds of millions of lines of dialogue from movies.

“Scientists and artists are collaborating more and more to use machine learning – a game-changing new technology – in entertainment, and thus build bridges between disciplines,” Mathewson said.

Join Mathewson and Mirowski for HumanMachine: Artificial Intelligence Improvisation.

Showtimes:

31 July and 1 August 2017, at 8:30pm BST.

Location:

Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, NW1 7BU, London, UK.