What to make of Erica, the AI Superstar Robot?I have a hard time conceiving of a way that this film could be successful without a little bit of cheating.
An AI super star?
In case sci-fi fans haven’t heard, there is a new actress on the block. Her name is Erica and she is a… robot. According to the Hollywood Reporter Erica will star in a sci-fi film called b, “b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.”
A part of me chuckles, thinking of the creepy uncanny valley Youtube videos of failed attempts at human-like robotics. However, robotics doesn’t seem to be the center of attention here. As Hollywood Reporter also reports, b is, “a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.”
Unsurprisingly enough, this also makes me chuckle. Considering the wonderful nuggets of A.I. screenwriting we have seen in the past, I”m overly skeptical of Erica’s ability to do anything remotely Oscar-worthy. Without the outside help of a sovereign programmer.
According to Sam Khoze, who is in part responsible for creating the film that Erica will star in,
“ …Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.”
Now this is just a gem. I’m tempted to throw a few laughing emojis up here. No matter how many times I come across an overly anthropomorphized anecdote about AI, it still manages to make me laugh. Some jokes just never wear off, I suppose.
Joking and satirical criticisms aside, I’m genuinely hoping to see something that will leave me speechless. Sure, I have no doubt that I’ll still be on the opposition side of the fence of the new AI religion after the credits roll through. However, I’m hoping for the directors and creators to pull off something truly entertaining and original.
However, if I’m completely honest, I have a hard time conceiving of a way that this film could be successful without a little bit of cheating. In other words, there will certainly be a difference between the obvious hype and dramatization of the production, and what is needed to pull it off.
When I delve into the articles and big reveals, it sounds like Erica is ultra lifelike. It sounds like she moves, runs, plays soccer, and gives great hugs. It also sounds like Erica took acting classes and has worked real diligently to perfect her craft and is not only ready for her role but is also super excited for it.
That said, I’m expecting Erica to have no personality or emotions of her own apart from what has been systematically programmed and reinforced. I’m expecting her role to have few action sequences and if so, a well orchestrated rig will be necessary.
People name objects all the time; I once had a car I named Betty. With a name, it’s easy to anthropomorphize anything. So I’m not surprised that Erica’s potential is being overly romanticised. However, I prefer to keep a healthy dose of skepticism. Time will tell If I’m right or wrong, and trust me, I would be more than happy to be wrong.
In case you missed it, here’s Adam Nieri’s take on excellent recent free sci-fi shorts.