Ex Nihilo

(Working title "ReGenesis")

The goal of the Ex Nihilo project is to create artificial intelligence capable of passing the Turing test, though each of the scientists involved seeks a different outcome for the experiment. Six androids are created, each one a blank slate capable of understanding and feeling just a small subset of human emotions. During the game, the androids learn new emotions by interacting with each other and the scientists, question their purpose and form emotional attachments. The scientists need to decide whether the androids are conscious enough to deserve to be treated as human, whether it is moral to give an android an ability to feel e.g. sadness, anger or attraction, and what should be the function of artificial intelligence in society. They are not only "talking heads", though - each one has a deeply personal agenda at stake. According to the protocol, all but one android will get terminated and the chosen one will get copied and distributed commercially, but that is far from only possible ending: an android might manipulate or convince a scientist to free it, the scientists can decide it would be immoral to terminate the androids, an android might chose to self-destruct, unable to bear the emotions it is feeling etc.

The play is naturalistic, with a brief workshop, one long continuous scene, and a debrief. There will be interactive, diegetic props: Rorschach test equivalents, crayons and paper, picture books, mirrors etc., all intended to prompt the androids to discover the world around them and their reactions to it, as well as enable the scientists to conduct tests on the androids to gauge their emotional capabilities. The characters are predesigned and have 1 page long character sheets; the scientists additionally have guidelines for conducting tests.

Ex Nihilo is heavily inspired by the film Ex Machina as well as by several hard sci-fi novels by Stanislaw Lem. The game wants to explore artificial intelligence from the inside and let the players experience how it feels to be created as a blank slate, gain human drives and emotions one by one and to make conscious choices about the development of the very core of one's personality. Will the androids choose to be able to feel sad? To hold a grudge? To love irrationally? The scientists will seek answers to philosophical questions like "Would the world be a better place if humans were unable to feel sadness? How about if all humans valued collective needs higher than individuality?" etc., as well as make personal decisions about how they relate to the androids.

Neutral Players: Min: 8 / Max: 10
Author(s): Theo Clarke, Steve Hatherley, Tony Mitton, Tym Norris, Mike Snowden and Karolina Soltys

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