Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Erica the AI robot has been cast as the lead 'actress in a $70m sci-fi film

The film tells the story of a scientist who discovers the dangers of a human DNA-perfecting programme he created, and sets out to help the robot escape

A robot created by Japan's Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories called Erica will be the star in sci-fi film 'b'. AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS
A robot created by Japan's Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories called Erica will be the star in sci-fi film 'b'. AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS

A robot named Erica has been cast as the lead in a science-fiction film.

The producers of the $70 million (Dh257m) film, called b, claim it is the first with an artificial intelligence "actor" in the lead role.

It will tell the story of a scientist who discovers the dangers of a human DNA-perfecting programme he created, and sets out to help Erica escape from it.

In real life, Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa created Erica as part of their studies on robotics. The scientists also taught the robot to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence.

“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role,” Sam Khoze, a producer and writer on the film, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.”

Erica was originally intended to debut in a different film directed by Tony Kaye, the filmmaker behind American History X. However, scheduling conflicts caused the project to collapse.

A director for b and a human co-star for Erica have not yet been revealed, however, producers have already filmed some of Erica’s scenes – in Japan in 2019. The rest of the movie is expected to be filmed in Europe in the summer of 2021.

A number of production and distribution companies have committed to backing b, including Bondit Capital Media – which financed the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent – as well as Happy Moon Productions and Ten Ten Global Media.

Updated: June 25, 2020 06:36 PM

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