May 8, 2020

Theatrical composer Matthew Suttor has been working on a musical piece called the Turing Opera Project along with Hugh Farrell (producer and dramaturg), Dakota Stipp (programmer), and Wlad Woyno (projection designer). Suttor explains that the work is not completely autobiographical although they do make use of many of Turing’s papers and podcasts he made towards the end of his life as the basis for certain parts of the piece. Smita Krishnaswamy Assistant Professor of Genetics and Computer Science recommended looking into the GPT-2 software for AI, and a PhD student in her lad, Dan Burkhardt, helped contact OpenAI. This software, according to Suttor, has yielded amazing results. “We really hoped the AI would preserve the idiosyncratic way that he [Turing] wrote, and it does,” Suttor continues. For example, they once entered the opening three sentences from Intelligent Machinery, A Heretical Theory – “You cannot make a machine to think for you. This is a commonplace that is usually accepted without question. It will be the purpose of this paper to question it.” The GPT-2 shockingly responded with: ‘You cannot say, “I do not believe in God”, because if you did it, the machine would say “I have no reason to believe in God, but you do”, and this would not be acceptable either.’

Another example of input and output used Turing’s famous syllogism “Turing believes machines think.” The input and outputs are shown below:

Turing:

Turing believes machines think 
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think

GPT-2:

Turing is not a philosopher
Turing’s argument is fallacious
Turing’s argument is circular
Turing is wrong because he thinks that
Turing is an immoral man
Turing’s argument is circular
Turing is wrong because
Turing does not understand
Turing is not a philosopher
Turing is wrong because
Turing is not an ethical man
Turing is not a philosopher
Turing is not a philosopher and
Turing is not an ethical man
Turing’s argument is fallacious
Turing’s argument is circular
Turing is wrong because he thinks that
Turing is an immoral man
Turing’s argument is circular
Turing is wrong because
Turing does not understand
Turing is not a philosopher
Turing is wrong because
Turing is not an ethical man
Turing is not a philosopher
Turing is not a philosopher
Turing is not a philosopher and
Turing is not an ethical man
Turing’s argument was a logical fallacy, and was not a rational attempt to justify something
Turing’s argument is a logical fallacy, and was not a rational attempt to justify something
Turing’s argument is a logical fallacy, and was not a rational attempt to justify something

Dakota Stipp working with analog synthesis setup

The overarching idea of the piece is that it acts as a giant Turing test. A Turing test includes two computer screens. Behind one is an AI machine and behind the other is a person. A third person then interacts with both computers and determines through the responses which one is a machine, and which one is another human. The test is used to measure machine intelligence. This is the same idea the opera is grounded on. However, the team is hoping to get the audience involved, for example, send the AI machine audience questions and see if the machine will respond. Instead of speaking however, they want to communicate with music generated with analog synthesizers. Hopefully, the AI machine will learn to sing back.

Hadleigh Adams, baritone, in the Leeds Studio

So far, they’ve had two workshops: one with Hadleigh Adams, a baritone opera singer from the San Francisco Opera, and another with a Yale School of Drama actor, Sola Fadiran, who is a trained singer. They sing in an improvised manner with the text that the AI produced, and the analog synthesizer accompanies them. Ultimately, the team hopes to incorporate all of this into a motion capture system. Suttor was inspired to incorporate a motion capturing system by a 2017 production put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company. They had done a production of the Tempest in which Ariel was both an actor and a projected avatar. The actor was being motion tracked and that was controlling the projected avatar. The Turing Opera Project aims to do something similar. When they experiment with this, they are not only looking at the larger movements but also at the more subtle gestures and facial tracing. All of this would then be used for the playback of the projected avatar of the AI. Suttor even visited the Turing Archive at King’s College at Cambridge University. The archive included numerous photographs of Turing; so, it could be possible to make a 3D model of his face and in the performance, it could be Turing himself in the model controlled by one of the performers. “We’ll be relying on the suspension of reality from the audience,” Suttor explains, but with all the amazing things that are being incorporated, the experience will definitely be worth it!

Sola Fadiran, baritone, in the Leeds Studio with Matthew Suttor, composer, and Dakota Still, programmer