1 September 2015

VR and AI at the Edinburgh Fringe

Whilst up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last week two shows caught my eye from a Daden perspective, I caught one and my daughter caught the other. 

ABACUS (Sundance Version) Trailer from Lars Jan on Vimeo.

ABACUS was a "presentation" by "Japanese cult-icon Paul Abacus" in the style of a visuals rich TED talk, filmed live by two steadicam operators. The visuals were very "Datascape" at times, 3D graphics over the Earth's surface", and some of the graphs were even based on Second Life stats! But as it the style of so many of these things what starts out straight soon begins to slowly collapse as the "presenter" goes off-piste, rages against the world, and goes ever so slightly mad. Apparently "Paul Abacus" is the fictional creation of Los Angeles-based director Lars Jan, and the show (and unveiling) caused quite a storm at the Sundance festival. It was OK, but one can't help feeling it needed to be either more real and straight, or far more off the wall.

The second show was Spillikin, which featured the Robothespian robot as a robot/AI created by a dying husband to keep his wife, who as Alzheimer's, company. As the show notes say "... the husband, already an obsessive archivist, builds a perfected robotic version of himself, to be deployed after his death: a patient carer, an aide-memoir, a singing partner, able to give order to her confusion, and to bear without complaint the endless repetition required to reassure her." We've seen a number of academic projects using chatbots to support Alzheimer's sufferers in just this way, and we're currently working on a Digital Immortality paper which also looks at some of the issues about achieving agency after death.

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