Danny Tyree, 6/15/2016 [Archive]

Will Hollywood Officially Switch To Artificial Intelligence?

Tyrades!By Danny Tyree

Remember classic Hollywood films in which someone like Mickey Rooney or Judy Garland gushed, "C'mon, gang, let's get a Long-Short Term Memory (LSTM) Neural Network to put on a show"?

Um, well, neither do I; but someday that could be the cliche our children remember.

According to CBS News, filmmaker Oscar Sharp and his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin have built a machine that can write screenplays. They fed the neural network (named Benjamin) hundreds of movie scripts and some prompts and it regurgitated a sparse script, which was turned into the short YouTube video "Sunspring".

I'm sure a lot of you assumed that Tinseltown was already using artificial intelligence (AI) to crank out its endless sequels and knuckleheaded knockoffs; but, no, this is a new "thought experiment," as CBS calls it.

Scripts are a fairly minor expense in the movie business (compared to star salaries, special effects, and paying MIT mathematicians to imagine new ticket prices); but I'm sure studios will be tempted to eliminate temperamental humans.Don't expect the end of scripts by committee, however. ("Benjamin, see what the photocopier and the fax machine care to contribute.")

Look for some schlockmeister producers to try saving even more money. ("Who needs fancy schmancy neural networks? We'll get some six-year-old Chinese kids to program their abacus to write a script.")

As a writer myself, I feel sympathy for the scriptwriters, although Hollywood "key grips" and "gaffers" are probably kicking them while they're down. ("Maybe you'll wish you had settled for being a 'best boy' instead of a Dalton Trumbo wannabe!")

I'm sure there is a place for AI in scripting, but without that human "ear," can they ever catch all the nuances of timeless films? I expect AI to ruin iconic lines if classic movies are remade. Would "Cool Hand Luke" be as memorable with "What we have here is failure to communicate — maybe the HTML coding needs some troubleshooting"?

Would "Silence Of The Lambs" be as memorable with "Who eats human liver with fava beans and a nice chianti, anyway? Get me a proofreading app"?Would "Deliverance" still chill us with "I bet you can squeal like a collection of ham, bacon, sausage, jowls..."?

Not even film titles will be safe. I can just imagine an AI machine muttering, "Fast and Furious, my shiny back side! Get a load of how fast and furious this algorithm is!"

Will AI be able to develop a true sense of humor, or will we get too-literal jokes such as, "Yo' momma is so fat...she really ought to eat smaller portions, avoid trans fats and develop a better exercise regimen"?

If scripts catch on, look for AI writing to expand to eulogies, sales spiels, T-shirt slogans, greeting card and the like. Bumper stickers may become brutally honest. ("My grandchildren are on the Honor Roll at Midland Elementary and -- oh, what difference does it make? Machines will take all their jobs, anyway!")

Someday even the human audiences will be written out of the equation, as AI starts producing scripts for other machines. Stay away from the porno theaters with all the trenchcoated blenders and weed whackers in the back row.

I'm trying to keep a positive attitude, but I fear that someday movies will end with disclaimers such as, "No humans were injured in the production of this motion picture. Yeah, right. Bwahaha..."


© 2016 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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