Tuesday, September 12, 2023

{Anthro-pology <

I was out at the Hampstead Theatre last night. Let's get the important things out of the way first.

  1. Arabesque, as recommended by Mia, is a great place to eat before watching a play there. They have no problem, for example, in you settling the bill early then chatting and drinking until it is time to leave and walk, without further fuss, around the corner to see the show.
  2. Jubilee Line from Swiss Cottage to Waterloo, then the Northern Line to Colliers Wood. Hampstead Theatre joins the exclusive group of theatres I can get back home from on the Tube in time to have a pint in the Royal Standard.

The play is called {Anthro-pology <. I didn't have any very high hopes for it to be honest, which I know sounds ridiculous as I did buy tickets, but having spent a lot of time studying generative AI and large language models I was intrigued to see what a contemporary dramatist would come up with. Lauren Gunderson, her director, cast and crew didn't let me down. It is a terrific piece of work; entertaining and thought provoking.

Have this as an example of roundabout praise for it. I went to the Chat GPT and Other Creative Rivals | Institute of Philosophy (sas.ac.uk) conference on 31 May and 1 June. Geoffrey Hinton (profiled in the essay 'A Potential Threat to Humanity' in ANTHROPOPLY's programme) contributed the, snappily titled 'Qualia are the phlogiston of cognitive science' to the proceedings. 'Oh goody,' I hear you cry.

Watching Myanna Buring as Merril, the protagonist, last night though reminded me irresistibly of  Deepmind's Jackie Kay who gave us 'Embodiment, Intelligence, and the Alien Creativity of Large Generative Models' at the same conference. The persona, the body language, the slightly eccentric phrase construction could have been the same person. 

High achievements, say I, in writing, direction and performance. Guess they succeeded in what they set out to do.

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