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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Human actors use AI-written scripts to create cyborg short films

Illustration for article titled Human actors use AI-written scripts to create cyborg short films
Screenshot: Calamity AI

The machines are still on track to replace us as rappers, opera performers, mascot creators, Star Wars writers, and foot photo-sellers, leaving our species with no future other than having our processed juices slurped into giant battery cells while we live and die in silicone wombs that never feel the warmth of the sun. Now, this evil plan seems to be accelerating. Our inevitable overlords have recruited quisling filmmakers to produce AI screenplays for them in a monumental act of betrayal.

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These human sell-outs call themselves Calamity AI, and their latest work is Date Night, one of a series of films made in unholy collaboration between AI script writers and living performers.

As might be expected, Date Night is borderline nonsense. Actors Owen Painter and Lily Rohren are shown sitting at a table, sharing a bottle of wine. The male character suggests his date joins him in playing “a little game” that involves “taming the fucking animal that drives you.” Before long, he’s barking at thin air and she’s hypnotized into acting like someone possessed by a demon. “You just slapped a volcano,” he tells her at one point. “Now beat me the fuck down.” She responds by beginning to realize they’re in a movie. They splash wine all over the place and end their date by reflecting on whether they’re just following the directions laid out in a script called Date Night. It’s all very romantic.

Vice interviewed Calamity AI’s Eli Weiss and Jacob Vaus, who use GPT-3 software to generate the scripts used for short films like Date Night. The project began with the pair “putting in the beginnings of scripts and letting [the program] write this rest.” Pleased with the results, they decided to go ahead and start turning the cyborg screenplays into movies. The scripts for Date Night and Calamity AI’s other shorts to date, The Turing Test and Solicitors, aren’t edited, but they are selected from multiple AI results and picked by which versions Weiss and Vaus find “most entertaining.”

The AI is only really capable of making short scripts (Vaus says the program “seems to, after a while, get very specific and dark and it writes itself in loops”) and it doesn’t produce the most coherent work. But Calamity AI thinks the technology has potential to help in situations like writer’s block, inspiring new ideas for people stuck without ideas for where to take their screenplays. And hey, if our species being trampled under the heavy metal feet of unfeeling robotic despots is the price that has to be paid for more original script-writing, at least we’ll have some fun stuff to watch on the way to our new homes in the NutriPods.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.