Perhaps the fear of artificial intelligence taking control of everything is overstated. A.I. might be able to drive cars and beat people at chess, but they can't write a compelling screenplay — or even get close to one. That's what happened when filmmaker Oscar Sharp and A.I. researcher Ross Goodwin worked together to create Benjamin, a neural network they programmed to become a budding science fiction screenwriter, with pretty terrible results.
They fed Benjamin a bevy of sci-fi scripts from the '80s and '90s — though oddly, the likes of Silver Linings Playbook and Scary Movie 2 were also thrown in, among others — and with the help of tech website Ars Technica and Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch, set out on a 48-hour mission to turn Benjamin's short film, Sunspring, into a reality.
Middleditch and the other actors in Sunspring had their work cut out for them, with choppy dialogue that makes little to no sense (take Middleditch's first line, "In a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood. It's something I can do"). Then, in the middle of tense, incoherent discussion, Middleditch's character vomits an eyeball, and places it on his desk. Sci-fi!
Overall, Sunspring is an oddly compelling short, but its success hinges on the performances of its actors — since they're good, the storyline can carry some emotional weight. Take actress Elisabeth Gray's ending monologue, with tears streaming down her face, despite its unintelligible message.
Benjamin's sci-fi writing abilities makes for a really fun concept, but we aren't going to see the next Dalton Trumbo in A.I. form anytime soon.
You can check out Sunspring for yourself below: