Artificial Intelligence Writes ‘Sunspring’ Sci-Fi Short Film Starring Thomas Middleditch [WATCH]

Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch stars in a strangely dark but hilarious sci-fi movie written by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that was created by filmmaker Oscar Sharp and his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin. CBS News reports how the duo wanted to build a machine that could write screenplays, so they took hundreds of popular sci-fi TV and movie scripts and programmed them into an artificial intelligence Long Short-Term Memory (LTSM) neural network that they originally named Jetson. Ironically, Jetson asked to be addressed as Benjamin instead.

Benjamin is the first AI to write the script of a sci-fi film. Titled Sunspring, the filmmakers created the basic premise of the story, which they “set in a futuristic society with mass unemployment where young people are forced to sell their blood.” The opening scene is that of a man who pulls a book from a shelf. From there, the AI system was allowed to weave the rest of the short screenplay using a set of guidelines from the Sci-Fi London Film Festival’s 48-hour challenge. The cast, which also includes Elisabeth Gray and Humphrey Ker, came together with the crew for one day of filming, per Mirror.

Sunspring is available on YouTube through the Ars Technica channel, or you can watch the entire film below. You can also download the screenplay here.

Award-winning filmmaker Oscar Sharp is a BAFTA-nominee and Screen International Star of Tomorrow. He studied at NYU Tisch Graduate Film, alma mater of Martin Scorsese and Ang Lee, where his professors included Darren Aronofsky, Todd Solondz, and Spike Lee. He is developing features with Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures, Echo Lake Entertainment, and SUMS.

Will the future of noteworthy narratives be penned by robots? Earlier this year, a novel written by an AI passed the first round in a Japanese literary contest. Newsweek also reported on how “artificial intelligence researchers have turned to literature in an attempt to instill human ethics into machines.” This research follows warnings from several high-profile academics that AI could be “more dangerous than nukes,” while physicist Stephen Hawking suggested that artificial intelligence could lead to the end of humanity.

Mark Riedl and Brent Harrison from the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology fed stories into an AI algorithm in order to teach it how to behave and respond like a human.

“The collected stories of different cultures teach children how to behave in socially acceptable ways with examples of proper and improper behavior in fables, novels and other literature,” said Riedl in a press release. “We believe story comprehension in robots can eliminate psychotic-appearing behavior and reinforce choices that won’t harm humans and still achieve the intended purpose.”

“We believe that AI has to be encultured to adopt the values of a particular society, and in doing so, it will strive to avoid unacceptable behavior,” Riedl added. “Giving robots the ability to read and understand our stories may be the most expedient means in the absence of a human user manual.”

Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Chinese internet giant Baidu, noted how artificial intelligence will impact future living and explained strategies that will help limit risks of AI evolution.

I would say it’s technology that could permanently destroy the entire future for all of humanity. For a slightly older audience, I would say there’s the possibility of human extinction or the permanent destruction of our potential to achieve value in the future.

“By the time we figure out how to make machines really smart, we should have some ideas about how to control such a thing, how to engineer it so that it will be on our side, aligned with human values and not destructive. That involves a bunch of technical challenges, some of which we can start to work on today,” Ng said.

Artificial Intelligence could soon make millions of jobs obsolete, and scientists and researchers worry that intelligent machines will result in huge numbers of individuals unable to learn, work, and earn.

Do you think the advancements in artificial intelligence are a threat to the future of humankind?


[Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP Images]