'A world first': a theatrical improvisation match between high school students and artificial intelligence

‘A world first’: a theatrical improvisation match between high school students and artificial intelligence

The theatrical event took place at the Marie-Curie School in Tarbes and gave rise to some funny scenes.

‘Emperor, Emperor! It’s all well and good to want to be lord of the world if your actions mean destroying the planet.” This is the starting line from which the students of the theater class of the Marie-Curie secondary school improvised an unlikely theatrical encounter between Greta Thunberg, the radical ecological activist, and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. A doubly unusual scene because it was part of an improvisation competition between young student actors in the flesh and an opponent who was unprecedented, to say the least: artificial intelligence.

“It is even a world first” does not hesitate to declare Caroline Fornieles, librarian professor at the initiative of the project, in close collaboration with theater teacher Marie Ponsot, who leads an “improvisation theater” workshop within the framework of the “boarding school of excellence ”. And with establishment computer scientist Patrick Pichou, who spent weeks ‘testing’ various conversational artificial intelligences to provide answers to the students.

Show the place and limits of artificial intelligence in art and confront it with human intelligence, see also how the actor can use this instrument to surpass himself, experience the limitation of responding to a robot to stimulate his imagination, or for the freedom of play: these are the main objectives of this verbal jousting from a distance, which delighted and fascinated the audience.

The students showed that they could adapt to all situations by adding emotion, against a conversational ‘robot’ capable of eliciting dialogues and brilliant but too mechanical lines. The evening provided some hilarious moments, especially when playing commercials around unusual products called “Patakra” or “Larimouch”, where the students indulged in some rather “frenzied” improvisations. Result: the match ended in a victory for humans against artificial intelligence. But until when?

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