Screenwriting AI “Benjamin” scribes a new cinematic masterpiece starring David Hasselhoff called It’s No Game. Monkeys Fighting Robots is a shadowy flight into the crowded and wild world of the Internet. Ruben R. Diaz is a not-so-young loner on a crusade to provide great content in a world where fake news and robots are taking over. Until now, Ruben’s battle against automation was at a safe distance. Ruben was not a factory worker or truck driver. But, last month, Ruben reported on Benjamin, an AI that can write screenplays. As a writer, particularly one who enjoys writing screenplays, Ruben looked into a world that operates above the human.
“I don’t know who the hell I am.”
– David Hasselhoff in ‘It’s No Game”
Benjamin strikes again! Creators of Benjamin Oscar Sharp (director) and Ross Goodwin (AI researcher), who created Sunspring return with It’s No Game. This time around, it’s a human-machine collaboration that challenges viewers to figure out who wrote what.
If you watched Sunspring, you’d immediately notice the primary effect of the human co-writer — cohesion. Sunspring was a fully surreal experience like a Jodorowsky film. It’s No Game has a much clearer arc that centers around the looming writer’s strike in Hollywood. Tom Payne (Walking Dead) and Tim Guinee (Stargate SG-1, Fringe) are writers told that they don’t need to return to work because artificial intelligence will handle the writing from now on. Yikes. That’s when studio head Sarah Hay (Flesh and Bone) unveils the Hoffbot or David Hasselhoff’s body but under control of nanobots. When the Hoffbot speaks, everyone listens, but few understand. It’s a melange of lines from Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider days.
Other “bot” surprises abound in the seven-minute short that I won’t spoil. It’s No Game loses the bizarro quality of Sunspring but creates something new and equally compelling. While much of Hoffbot’s dialogue is nonsensical, in a strange way, the film is a powerful and touching addition to the actor’s career. And Hasselhoff puts 110% into the role, spewing robotic lines without sounding like a cheesy machine and then suddenly becoming very human at the end. In an interview with Ars Technica’s Annalee Newitz, The Hoff said: “This AI had a handle on what’s going on in my life, and it was strangely emotional.”
Love it or fear it, man and machine become one more and more every day.
The loss of surreality gives rise to a hybrid film that both flows beautifully, but also hits on many poignant levels. Sue me for getting too heady here, but It’s No Game is a fitting title. Automation is taking real-world work, and no one is answering that one big question: What do humans do when there are no jobs left? It truly is no game but a looming reality.
In a moving sequence, Hasselhoff, now “human” again says “I just want to go to the movies.” If robots are doing all the work, and people aren’t getting paid, who will be able to go to the movies?
I for one welcome our future robot masters. As a fan of science, technology, and progress, there’s no reason to fear them. After all, the Google God already knows everything about us. If the machines wanted us dead, we’d be dead already. #Brightside?
For a seven-minute film, Benjamin and his human helpers pack a lot in. The short story treats viewers to Shakespeare, Aaron Sorkin, vintage Hollywood and an uncanny dance from ballerina Hay. Love it or fear it, man and machine become one more and more every day. One thing is certain, It’s No Game and its writer Benjamin demand your attention and provide plenty of entertainment.