A piece in today’s Times:
Her acting may be a little stilted, but she doesn’t have the ego of a Hollywood A-lister.
A humanoid robot powered by artificial intelligence has been awarded the lead role in a science fiction film in what could be a watershed moment for AI technology.
The android actress, Erica, plays a genetically modified superhuman who goes on the run with the scientist who helped to create her. The film, titled b, is said to have a budget of £56 million ($70 million). Her co-stars have yet to be announced.
Erica has been designed to look like a 23-year-old woman with brown hair cut in a bob. She speaks with a synthetic voice and can perform basic movements such as blinking.
Her creator, Hiroshi Ishiguro, of Osaka University, revealed Erica in 2015 and has touted her for a number of roles, including a newsreader on Japanese television. He says that she is the world’s most beautiful and humanlike android.
Her film debut is the result of a deal with Life Productions, a company in Los Angeles that specialises in “AIA”: artificial intelligence artists. Sam Khoze, the founder, said that Erica needed intensive training to prepare for her role.
“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role. But Erica has no life experiences,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as talking through her feelings and coaching character development.”
Funding is being organised by Bondit Capital Media, which also financed Loving Vincent, the Oscar-nominated animated film about the life of Van Gogh.
Filming with an android offers practical advantages when there is social distancing. Erica is understood to have recorded her first scenes in Japan last year.
Technological advances are allowing directors to push the boundaries of casting. An avatar of James Dean will star with real actors in the film Finding Jack.
The android Erica “speaks with a synthetic voice and performs basic movements like blinking.” Just like a lot of human actresses then?
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