I am Echoborg


The audience are set a challenge to discover the best possible outcome for relations between humans and intelligent machines. The AI has another agenda. The content and tone of each show, as well as the ending are different each time depending on the conversation they have.

This is a pioneering use of AI as a tool to deliver genuine audience agency in the creation of an experiential exploration of the impacts of automation on what it is to be human.

Watch our 4 minute documentation of performances at the Cube Bristol in June 2018.

Quotes from previous audiences:


“Somewhere between participatory theatre and open warfare.”

“Reflecting on who speaks, who leads and who is most scared to lose their power.”

“It was a lot of fun because it was playful.”

“I was thinking like, how can I overcome the system and destroy it.”

“Not only thought-provoking and clever but entertaining and I laughed a lot more than I expected.”


Origin of the concept

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.

About the Bot

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.