Near 100th Anniversary of Robot Play, AI Writes Play for Humans

The word “robot” was invented by Czechs Karel Čapek, and his brother Josef, who wrote the play “R.U.R.” about robots. So turnabout by a “robot” brain in writing a play about people seems appropriate.

According to a story on, the theatrical performance written by AI is expected to be completed by September and will debut next year, in time for the R.U.R. centennial celebration.

“While there are now numerous papers focusing on machine-produced art, including some where computational techniques were used to produce dialogues or story ideas for plays, the automatic generation of an entire theatrical performance is an extremely complex task never-before attempted,” the story says.

A photo of the play R.U.R., which inspired researchers to have AI write a play about humans. (Source: Wikipedia)

Rudolf Rosa, a researcher in Computational Linguistics at Charles University in Prague, came up with the idea for the project and assembled a group to work with GPT-2, OpenAI’s open-source program that draws from a voluminous amount of English tests.

The researchers plan to use hierarchical generation, where the script is split into smaller manageable parts, and write it in parts. Other research teams have generated dialogue that way, but not an entire play.

The original play, “R.U.R.,” takes its name from an abbreviation for the name “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” According to Wikipedia, the play premiered January 25, 1921 and established the word “robot” for posterity.