“There is a really nerdy side of music and conversely a really wild side of science so we’ve been inspired by those crossovers”: Director Alexander Scott on Little Bulb Theatre’s The Future
Described as “recklessly talented” and “insanely brave”, award-winning nationally touring company Little Bulb debut their latest show at Battersea Arts Centre. The production explores AI and the future of our world in the “intelligence explosion”, where technology has become smarter than its creators, and the detrimental effect on humanity.
Taking inspiration from leading ideas in philosophy and science, The Future combines TED talks, futurology and cosmic rock, to present a darkly comic show with big ideas that leaves plenty for audiences to reflect upon.
We spoke to Alexander Scott, the show’s director, about the creative process, the team’s inspirations and AI’s place in our ever-changing world.
Congratulations on having your London premiere at Battersea Arts Centre. How have audience reactions been so far when you’ve performed the piece?
Honestly, they’ve been really mixed. Positive, negative, combative and meh. It’s very early days and we are still learning a lot about the show and how to connect it to an audience and we really do see it as a dialogue so hopefully with every show we are getting a bit closer.
Can you talk us through the process of combining music, minds and machines in creating The Future, and your overall experience?
We wanted to explore the current philosophy in AI safety in a way that would grip audiences at whatever level of understanding they currently had and a key aspect of that was melting the ideas down and recasting them as songs, which we’ve always found to be an incredibly direct way of communicating complex ideas.
What were the most enjoyable aspects of putting together this production?
Doing tons of research and then deploying philosophical what-ifs in high stakes theatrical scenarios. That and doing a deep dive into an all-electric sound pallet.
When devising this show, were there any particular challenges you faced?
Blending the different voices in the debate around AI safety was really difficult and we hope we’ve done the debate justice.
Which other projects that bridge philosophy and science have inspired the piece?
In a way it’s more of a bridge between art and science of which philosophy is part. But there is a really nerdy side of music and conversely a really wild side of science so we’ve been inspired by those crossovers. The seriousness of Kraftwerk and the mind-bending theories of quantum physicists are just two examples.
How do you think people’s lives are going to change in the future as a result of more Artificial Intelligence?
As laid out in the show I think they will change fundamentally and in ways we cannot expect. That is why it’s important to discuss the lives we would like to have and act accordingly.
What are your thoughts in preventing the complete redundancy of humans in an AI world and the hypothetical but completely plausible notion of technological singularity?
I think we can’t prevent it in the world of work but we can all become better at understanding what makes a good, rewarding life outside of that.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes! We’re currently making a show about the migration of folk songs from the British Isles. Songs that would become a key component of American country and old time music. So this time it’s all acoustic with lots of banjos.
Are you looking forward to the future that you are portraying?
Not the one that we are portraying, although we don’t present the worst possible outcome.
Photo: Adam Trigg
For further information about Little Bulb Theatre visit the company’s website here.