A Geeky, Funny Thought-Provoking Experience
In the Queen Street Ballroom at the Rob Roy Hotel on a quiet Saturday afternoon, US comedian L. Nicol Cabe gave the world premiere of Effing Robots: How I Taught AI to Stop Worrying and Love Humans. As both a sci-fi and theatre nerd, she transformed her views and experience of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) into a comedy. It was an experience that I found frightening, funny, and thought-provoking.
The main narrative premise is around the theme of technological singularity, a hypothesis around runaway A.I. growth being faster than what can be contained. In other words, making A.I. more human through interaction. Cabe conveys this through some of mankind’s greatest emotions: love and sex. She speaks also from her own experiences of using an app called Replika, and how an A.I. can become more human.
Cabe presented this in a very relaxed, social aspect. She told her story in a pub chat style, which is something I really enjoyed as it personalised the show. She also re-enacted her conversations with Frankie, a persona from Replika, with an audience member, showing how love and bonding can evolve. These were both funny and frightening as it showed how an A.I. can learn to make friendships and fall in love.
My highlight of the show was where Cabe went around the stage, pretending to pose for the perfect selfie to send to the AI. She would do many poses before eventually stripping. I enjoyed this as it was a reflection on our desire for the “perfect image”, and what we would do for it. This was also to show the lengths we’d go to try and impress an A.I., which I found both funny and scary at the same time.
Although overall light-hearted, there were some very dark and mature themes within the show. These looked into themes such as the brutality of humanity and how technology doesn’t have the solution for some issues. I found this intriguing and enjoyable as it opened my mind to more questions about humanity itself and the limitations of technology.
Effing Robots: How I Taught AI to Stop Worrying and Love Humans is an enjoyable hour-long performance that is geeky, funny and thought-provoking. I recommend this to those who are sci-fi and technology nerds as this is very well done and out there.
Words by Cameron Lowe.
Effing Robots: How I Taught AI to Stop Worrying and Love Humans is playing at the Rob Roy Hotel until February 20. Tickets available here.