Robotics firm ‘Engineered Arts’ is teaming up with acclaimed dramatists Pipeline Theatre to tackle the future of robotics and humanity.
Spillikin (a love story) is a play that deals with a possible near future.
One where loved ones can persist beyond death; where we outsource our emotional labour to machines; where real and electronic minds meet and mingle at the boundaries of humanity.
It is also a deeply personal work, drawing on the experiences of the Pipeline team and of Alzheimer’s carers and support networks around the country.
The themes also resonate on a societal level, as we confront the reality of an ageing population and turn to technology for support.
The robot in Spillikin may seem a long way in in the future, but in fact, we took only a few leaps to get there from the extant present.
Through the talents of three actors and one robot, the audience is confronted, challenged and drawn into this world, in which a confused elderly lady and a humanoid robot play out the fractured remains of a life-long love story.
The play presents a machine with the patience, intuition and sensitivity, never tiring of repeating information and able to interact by recognising and producing subtle emotional cues.
As an assistant, this could improve the quality of life of both Alzheimer’s sufferers and their human carers – but is this something we can be ethically and morally comfortable with?
Engineered Arts director Will Jackson says:
“The vision depicted in the play is not really that far off our current capabilities. Most of the technology already exists, which is why you see these questions coming up so often now in robotics discussions. People are either very worried about the possibility that AI will destroy humanity, or they are convinced it will save us.
We think the truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but it’s important to examine the ethical, moral and philosophical ramifications of artificial intelligence and robots with human-like characteristics.
And the best way to do that is to let people watch a story like this unfold in front of them, and draw them into the debate.
This play isn’t about presenting one side or another, but about exploring the issue in a nuanced, critical, human-centric way.”
“Sally’s confused. She’s mislaid her husband. But there’s a robot in her living room and his voice is familiar.”
You can make Spillikin play a reality by following the source link below.