Watch our 4 minute documentation of performances at the Cube Bristol in June 2018.
In 2015 psychologists Corti and Gillespie coined the term Echoborg.
An echoborg is a hybrid agent composed of the body of a real person and the “mind” (or, rather, the words) of a conversational agent; the words the echoborg speaks are determined by the conversational agent, transmitted to the person via a covert audio-relay apparatus, and articulated by the person through speech shadowing. Corti, Kevin and Gillespie, Alex (2015) Offscreen and in the chair next to you: conversational agents speaking through actual human bodies. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 9238 . pp. 405-417. ISSN 0302-9743
Interactive dramatist Rik Lander has taken this idea and built a dramatic, funny and troubling scenario around it.
During the show there is no one behind the scenes speaking into a mic or typing the replies. The conversations are with a genuine artificial intelligence. A microphone pics up the words spoken by the interviewee. These are input to the bot via a speech-to-text program. The bot responds via a text-to-speech program into the headphones of the Echoborg who repeats the words.
Each performance influences then next. In this way audiences are not only creating the performance each night but helping in the ongoing evolution of the show. The first version in February 2016 had 43KB of code. By May 2018 it had 794KB of code.