In addition to being an original improv comedy show, Improbotics is also the subject of scientific research on the use of artificial intelligence in theatre and on the Turing test*, and it has been presented at international scientific conferences.
- Kory Mathewson and Piotr Mirowski (2018) “Improbotics: Exploring Deception using Machine Intelligence in Improvised Theatre”, AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, Edmonton.
- Kory Mathewson and Piotr Mirowski (2017) “Improvised Comedy as a Turing Test“, Creative AI workshop at NIPS – Neural Information Processing Systems, Long Beach. That work featured in the New Scientist (Douglas Heaven, “Robot’s terrible jokes are a new test of machine intelligence”, 16 December 2017).
- Kory Mathewson and Piotr Mirowski (2017) “Improvised theatre alongside artificial intelligences“, AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, Snowbird.
Piotr and Kory, who are both improvisers and researchers in AI, believe in an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and sciences. Our vision is to explore new forms of human theatre through the help of state-of-the-art research in artificial intelligence and robotics, and to highlight what is uniquely human. For us, the skill of theatrical improvisation is one of the highest forms of human intelligence, and by confronting humans to the incongruity of machines on the stage, we can create new opportunities for comedy.
We are planning on continuing writing about the science behind AI-based improv comedy stage partners. The experimental protocol involves a Turing test* that takes place in a theatre, with both the audience members and the performers left to guess who is a human and who is a machine. In order to test scientific hypotheses about the perception of humans vs. machines and to conduct the Turing test, we typically collect anonymized feedback from audience members as well as feedback from volunteer performers who signed consent forms. Participation in the data collection is always be optional and never mandatory. The experimental protocol has been validated by the institutional ethics board of the University of Alberta. Improbotics performers and artistic collaborators are invited to contribute as authors to the paper if they wish, and all artists are always acknowledged.
* To pass the Turing test, a machine (such as an artificial intelligence-based chatbot) needs to display the appearance of human-level intelligence by fooling a human judge into thinking that it is human.