If artificial intelligence wrote our films, they wouldn’t be that different from what we already have.
If AI were to start scripting Hollywood movies, would you even notice?
For an industry that has become so dependent on computers to generate its images, you’d think Hollywood wouldn’t dislike technology so much. But for Tinseltown bigwigs, it’s a convenient scapegoat for failing box-office returns. They can criticize websites like Rotten Tomatoes for sabotaging a film’s chances when it assigns the flick a binary Fresh/Not Fresh rating. The website has the temerity to say a movie is bad just because a majority of film critics did. The nerve. And while hating on Rotten Tomatoes is like getting mad at the CBC when your favourite hockey team loses, now scientists have moved beyond creating programs that aggregate film reviews and are creating neural networks that write films. Or, almost.
These artificial neural networks (based on the structure of biological neural networks) actually rearrange and reinterpret data samples in order to create something new. Janelle Shane, a research scientist based in Boulder, Colo., trains neural networks to “write unintentional humour as they struggle to imitate human data sets,” she explains on her blog, aiweirdness.com. “Well, I intend the humour,” she adds. “The neural networks are just doing their best to understand what’s going on.” Last year, after they were fed a Wikipedia’s worth of film titles, they came up with a list of yet-to-be-made films of their own. Screenwriters aren’t going to lose their jobs any time soon, but there are definitely some film ideas on Shane’s list that show potential.
PIRATES: A FIGHT DANCE STORY Studio note: Finally, a film that mixes the once popular pirate genre with capoeira. It’s about time.
CANNIBAL SPY II Studio note: Naturally, a first Cannibal Spy would help, but with sequels being so popular these days, it’s hard to imagine this one underperforming.
LEGEND OF THE EXPERIENCE OF SCARLET FREEDOM DAMAGEBOO
Studio note: You won’t believe what happens to Mrs. Freedom Damageboo until you experience the legend of the experience yourself!
THE LEGENDS OF WORLD PLANET Studio note: This title is arguably a bit vague, but when has Hollywood ever shied away from broad stories?
TREE SCREAMING Studio note: It’s an environmental allegory—the same way Get Out was about race. Only, instead of being a razor-sharp cultural commentary, this is about trees that scream.
A VAMPIRE TIME FOR MONSTER Studio note: Possibly a franchise. Maybe A Zombie Time for Monster is next? Or, A Monster Time for Vampire?
WILD BAD PARTY 109 Studio note: The problem with The Hangover movies was that they didn’t make enough of them. Get ready for all 109 instalments of the Wild Bad Party saga.
THE STORY OF THE STAR TREK: THE SECRET OF THE STORY OF THE STAR WARS Studio note: A film that’s so exciting, it has a plot twist right there in the title.