Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Everyone's a critic

A new generative artificial intelligence system called 'Claude 2' was pre-released to early adopters last Wednesday. It can summarise, answer questions or comment on, and make suggestions about texts while keeping the submitted document private even though it draws on external sources from its corpus for elucidation. 

When I got home I uploaded the PDF of Peter's play 'Something in the Air' that his agent sent me in 2020 and identified him as the author. In seconds the system analysed it and replied:

"Based on the play, here are a few key points about it:

"It centers around the characters of Alex and Colin, two men who had a romantic relationship when they were younger but have drifted apart as they aged. Their story is told through flashbacks and fragmented conversations.

"Other characters include Gareth, a young man Colin has befriended; Nicholas, Alex's former lover; Andrew, Alex's son; and Clare, Andrew's daughter.

Themes explored include love, loss, memory, aging, and the passage of time. There is a melancholy feeling to the play as Alex and Colin reflect on their past together and the roads not taken.

"The structure is non-linear, with scenes blending into each other and time periods shifting. Location is also ambiguous.

Poetic language and imagery are used, like the references to the moon being like a "dying lady lean and pale."

"Music plays an important role, marking different eras and relationships. For example, Alex recalls how Colin criticized his enthusiasm for rock and roll music when they were young.

"Let me know if you have any specific questions about the characters, plot, themes, or structure of the play! I'd be happy to discuss it further."

To check integration with information external to the play itself I asked "Does it remind you of any other plays?" and was answered as follows.

'The fragmented, nonlinear structure of "Something in the Air" reminds me of other plays that explore memory and the fluidity of time, like:

"Krapp's Last Tape" by Samuel Beckett - This one-act play centers on a man listening to recordings of himself at earlier ages. It uses a tape recorder as a device to collapse time.

"Betrayal" by Harold Pinter - This play about an affair uses reverse chronological order to uncover the story of the relationship from end to beginning.

"Fences" by August Wilson - The main character Troy has flashbacks to his youth throughout this drama about an African-American family.

"The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams - Williams uses the device of the narrator's memory to blur past and present in this classic play.

'Like "Something in the Air," these plays use fragmented structure, fluid time, and memory as a lens to explore complex interpersonal relationships. The effect is a lyrical, poignant, sensory view of the past. Gill's poetic language also connects his style to other modernist playwrights like Beckett, Pinter, and Williams. Let me know if you'd like me to expand on any of these comparisons!'

I find this genuinely amazing. I demonstrated it to him when I visited on Sunday morning and we played around with it for about half an hour.

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