Improvised Comedy as a Turing Test at NIPS 2017

December 8, 2017. Kory Mathewson and Piotr Mirowski present “Improvised Comedy as a Turing Test” at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California, USA, during the Workshop on Machine Learning for Creativity and Design (link to paper, slides of the presentation [pdf, keynote]).

The best improvisational theatre actors can make any scene partner, of any skill level or ability, appear talented and proficient in the art form, and thus “make them shine”.


Two human performers and an audience volunteer improvising with a robot.

To challenge this improvisational paradigm, we built an artificial intelligence (AI) trained to perform live shows alongside human actors for human audiences.

Over the course of 30 performances to a combined audience of almost 3000 people, we have refined theatrical games which involve combinations of human and (at times, adversarial) AI actors. We have developed specific scene structures to include audience participants in interesting ways.

Finally, we developed a complete show structure that submitted the audience to a Turing test and observed their suspension of disbelief, which we believe is key for human/non-human theatre co-creation.

If you would like to know more about the project from an improviser’s point of view, check out this great post by Rachel Rosenthal — Performer, Comedian, Instructor in New York, USA.

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