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Researchers in Prague Are Working on a Play Written by Artificial Intelligence

The performance is expected to premiere in January 2021.

Researchers at Charles University, Švanda Theater and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague are working on theatrical performance written by artificial intelligence, Techxplore reports. The performance is expected to premiere in January 2021.

The idea came from Tomáš Studeník, an innovator who noticed that the 100-year anniversary of the theater play R.U.R. is coming up.

"Tomáš thought that this should be properly celebrated and came up with the idea of turning the story around," said Rudolf Rosa, one of the researchers who carried out the study. "100 years ago, a man wrote a theater play about robots; what if today, robots wrote a theater play about men?"

To carry this one, researchers have been experimenting with a pretrained language model called GPT-2, which uses existing text to generate similar language.

"When we fed GPT-2 a scene setting and a few lines of the drama script, it generated further lines in the same style and focusing on the topic of the input script chunk," Rosa said.

For the first round of research, they did not train GBT-2 to specifically learn theater scripts. They now plan to do so for the future.

"Our project is still in its early days, but we have been quite amazed at how well just the basic approach of utilizing pretrained GPT-2 model works," Rosa said. "We only fed it a few lines from a script and it picked up its genre, structure, topic and character names, using this information to generate more or less plausible lines."

At this stage, Rosa expects humans to still be heavily involved in the process, but when the first play premieres, audience feedback will drive further research and development.

A professional theater group will perform the piece in January 2021, and a completed script is expected to be ready by September to allow for time for rehearsal.

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