New stage play written by artificial intelligence coming soon

May 4, 2020

Dr. Rudolf Rosa from the Institute of Formal and Applied Linguistics of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University got a two-year-long subsidy to work on a project that links artificial intelligence and theatre. His team will create two stage plays by which he will show how much the artificial intelligence can do itself and what are its limitations.

This project inspired by Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. was evaluated the best in ETA TA CR programme last autumn. The programme supports research of applied social sciences and humanities and art. It focuses on projects with a multidisciplinary approach linking technical and non-technical research.

“We want to present artificial intelligence with all its pros and cons and get it closer to people,” says the project leader Dr. Rudolf Rosa. People should no longer be scared of artificial intelligence or on the other hand even worship it. “The artificial intelligence will gradually become a part of our everyday lives. That is why we need to use it effectively and not only rely on it 100 per cent or strictly simply reject it. We need to get to know the artificial intelligence first, understand its purpose,” explains Dr. Rosa.

The project THEaiTRE. Artificial intelligence author of a stage play? gets together people from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics and the representatives of cultural and art sphere, the Švanda’s Theatre and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU).

The research team of CUNI MFF will develop software for generating stage plays scripts which will be available for public throughout a special application. The team of DAMU should examine stage plays and their possibilities to be generated automatically. The representatives of the Švanda’s Theatre will then study and present the play.

For the system development the researchers will use techniques of computer learning, e.g. a language model GPT-2 by OpenAI organization. Three approaches of a neural network usage will be tested: naive linear approach suitable for shorter texts, hierarchical ontological approach when the system has to learn how to make an abstract summary of the whole play, and hierarchical textual approach which substitutes the abstraction by a text.

One of the research questions is how much a script can be created by artificial intelligence and how much a human has to intervene into the process. “We would like to work the way called human in the loop which means that we will create a system which is mainly computerized and self-operated but to finish the task needs to cooperate with a human. We are trying to give the computer the beginning of a dialogue, it suggests several possible continuations out of which we choose the best one and then the computer continues as before. We will finish the whole dialogue together this way,” presents Rudolf Rosa and adds that the result will be the surprise even for them.

Due to lack of stage play scripts which could be used as training data it will be necessary to switch between English and Czech texts during the system development. The final script should also be done in two language versions because the Švanda’s Theatre wants to present the play abroad, too.

The Czech premiere will take place in January 2021, 100 years after the premiere of Čapek’s R.U.R.

OFSKP, OPMK