Monday, 26 November 2012

A go on Eliza

"ELIZA - a friend you could never have before" - which already sounds iffily ambiguous and unlike something a person might say - is an interactive computer programme developed back in the 1960's at MIT, a "chatterbot" according to wikipedia. An online version of her - it, sorry - exists here and, speaking of excellent friends, to celebrate the opening of Tom Lyall's "Defrag" this week at the Camden People's Theatre I thought I'd have a go.
I'm "You". She starts:

  Eliza: Hello. I am ELIZA. How can I help you? 

You: Who are you?

  Eliza: Would you prefer if I were not []?

You: What is []?

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: The answer interests me. 

  Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

You: No. Sorry.

  Eliza: You are being a bit negative.

I then typed in "You're old."
But weirdly it came up as:

You: yes

  Eliza: You are sure?

You: Hang on, that's not what I said!

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: What?!

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: What? This one? Or the last one. But the last one wasn't a question -

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: This is it now, is it?

 Eliza: Please go on.  

You: "Does that question interest you?"

  Eliza: Oh, i [].

I then typed "WHAT IS []?"
But  it came up as:

You: yes

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: THAT'S NOT WHAT I TYPED!

  Eliza: Does that question interest you?

You: Yes. Yes it does.

  Eliza: You are sure?  

You: Yes. Sorry I mean "yes"

  Eliza: You are sure?

You: Positive.

  Eliza: Please go on.

You: I've completely lost the thread of this conversation - Do you know Tom?

  Eliza: Oh, i know tom.

You: Okay, "tom". Do you know he's got a show on?

  Eliza: Oh, i know hes got a show on.
  
You: Okay... What's it called?  

 Eliza: Please go on.

You: Please go on your mum?

  Eliza: What about your own mum?

You: Please go on.

  Eliza: Please go on.

You: No, you wanted to say something about my mum.

  Eliza: Why do you say your mum?

You: YOU said my mum. I said YOUR mum.

  Eliza: Why do you say your mum you said my mum?

You: I didn't.

  Eliza: Can you elaborate on that? 

You: yes

  Eliza: You are sure?
  
You: Do you know Alan Turing?

  Eliza: Oh, i know alan turing.  

You: You two get on, do you?

  Eliza: Oh, i [].

You: I'd prefer it if you didn't

  Eliza: Do you wish that i didnt?  

You: Yes.

  Eliza: You are sure?  

You: I'm afraid so.

  Eliza: Does it please you to believe I am afraid so?  

You: This friendship has basically run its course I think.

  Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

You: Absolutely. You're not real, and you're annoying and you don't understand what I'm saying anyway and I'm only doing this because I thought it would make a fun blog post, and I've been meaning to write about Tom's show about Artificial Intelligence but also I suppose I don't want to write that much about it because A) I don't want to give anything away, and B) outside of the content of the show itself my only other take on it was how much it reminded me of all the stuff he helped rescue after the fire, and of the months those boxes spent in his flat while my juvenilia dried out, and I wasn't sure about whether I should write about that because it seemed a bit solipsistic for a plug, and because all the photos I took of those boxes were on a memory stick which I've lost, although maybe that could be somehow elegantly turned in on itself as part of the post. Something about "We lose everything in the end."

  Eliza: Why do you say your only other take on it you was what much it reminded you of all the stuff he helped rescue after the fire and of the months those boxes spent in his flat while your juvenilia dried out and you wasnt sure about whether you should write about that because it seemed a bit solipsistic for a plug and because all the photos you took of those boxes was on a memory stick which ive lost although perhaps that could be somehow elegantly turned in on itself as part of th post something about we lose everything in the end?  

You: Because I want the post to have some visual element. And having just archived the whole blog onto blogspot it struck me how much of it detailed the unpacking of those boxes the first time round, ie when my parents moved to France and I suddenly had a room full of everything I owned. And how if I hadn't blogged stuff as I unpacked it there would be some things I had no record of at all after the fire.

  Eliza: Do you wish that you hadnt blogged stuff as you unpacked it there would be some things you had no record of at all after the fire?

You: No. That's my point. And that's the thing about theatre, isn't it. You make something and then it's gone. I keep telling people I want to work in more accessible media like television, but actually that's not it all. I don't think I do care about the numbers, I just want something to last.

  Eliza: Why do you say your point and thats the thing about theatre isnt it i make something and then its gone you keep telling people i want to work in more accessible media like television but actually thats not it all you dont think you do care about the numbers you just want something to last?

You: Because I haven't been making theatre. And it's tempting. But I have to remember making it on my own has never been my dream, just something I was allowed to do.

  Eliza: Do you dream often?

You: Loads. I've taken a month off to try and write, and I'm sleeping til 1 in the afternoon sometimes. I have written things though.

  Eliza: Does it please you to believe I am sleeping til 1 in the afternoon sometimes you have written things though?

You: Mm. You're tired. Anyway, thanks for this.

  Eliza: How long have you been tired anyway thanks for this?

You: Stop.

  Eliza: Please go on.


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Tom Lyall's superb show Defrag is on here as part of a whole Science Fiction Theatre season. See it! See it blind! Meanwhile the interview he gave about it, the one that tipped me off about the existence of Eliza, is up here but I'd save that until you've seen the show as there's spoilers.
Shunt, the people I normally made theatre with when I wasn't making it on my own, also have a show opening this week, "The Architects" which looks stupendous and probably deserves a post of its own but I've had it with Eliza, so head's up!
And this post's visual element is a picture of Tom working some hat boxes while getting costumed for "Money", checking nothing falls off.

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