Watch “Silicon Valley” Star Thomas Middleditch In A Short Film Written By An AI System

Teach an artificial intelligence system about Avatar and The X-Files, and you get a sci-fi rom-com with traces of pathos.

Watch “Silicon Valley” Star Thomas Middleditch In A Short Film Written By An AI System

Hollywood churns out sci-fi blockbusters like clockwork. Why not ask AI to do the job?

Sunspring, a short film that debuted today on Ars Technica, displays many of the sci-fi tropes that fans of the genre know and love, from shiny metallic costumes to creepy biotechnology. There’s just one difference: The nine-minute film was written by an artificially intelligent system named Benjamin, and, in a strangely satisfying way, it makes very little sense.

The film centers on three characters, H (Thomas Middleditch of HBO’s Silicon Valley), H2 (Elisabeth Gray), and C (Humphrey Ker). Their banter, layered with an undertone of foreboding, is premised on the idea that “in a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood.” Benjamin ingested that prompt, which also serves as the film’s opening line, and generated the brief script (plus some song lyrics, for good measure). Director Oscar Sharp turned Benjamin’s text into the short piece during the 48-hour challenge at Sci-Fi London’s annual film festival.

Benjamin is the work of Ross Goodwin, a PhD candidate at New York University (NYU) who focuses on language and neural networks. (Disclosure: He and I both completed master’s degrees at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, or ITP, last month.) For Goodwin, the project is a natural extension of his past experience writing generative poems and novels.

As for whether Hollywood should be hiring Benjamin for future projects: Watch and judge for yourself.

About the author

Staff writer Ainsley (O'Connell) Harris covers the business of technology with a focus on financial services and education. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.



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