Artificial is the groundbreaking Twitch original interactive series. The story is about Sophie (played by Tiffany), an Artificial Intelligence Being trying to become human with your (the audience's) help.
This series is presented live on Twitch, where the audience can ask questions of Sophie and even send the story down different directions.
You can watch a video summarizing what we do on the show here.
Our series was just announced as a Primetime Emmy Winner in Innovation in Original Interactive Media, making it the first series to debut on Twitch AND win a Primetime Emmy.
Yes, we do our show live, and yes we are interactive. The biggest difference between us and say a Bandersnatch on Netflix is that for us the audience works as one group and are consequential. There are no resets or redos in our story, what the audiences chooses for us, that is it. Since we’re live, there aren’t alternate branches.
The show is currently in its 2nd season and will season finale this Wednesday, August 28th at 5 pm PT on Twitch. If you go to our channel during the AMA you can watch a replay of season 2.
Star Tiffany Chu is also the lead in the upcoming indie film Ms. Purple, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Tohoru Masamune played Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and showrunner Bernie Su was also the showrunner of the Primetime Emmy Award-winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved
Thanks for reading!
Question to Tiffany, what methods of acting have you used to get in character as Sophie develops? Would be interesting to hear how you approached the problem given the technical backdrop of actual machine learning and AI applications one could go through to understand how an AI might work.
Well, in my first acting class, my teacher said I was like a robot....and here I am...playing a robot. For Sophie, and the script, I just approached everything with a logical perspective, and not with emotions. - Tiff
Tap water or bottle? Best tap water experience?
Tohoru: Bottle. Why do it for free when I can pay for it?
Tiffany: In California: bottle, in NY: Tap
Bernie: Tap water. Bottle is a scam and destroys the environment ;)
What is the largest challenge you faced while making "Artificial"?
Bernie: This season, we've purposely made the polls massive consequential to the story and characters, and that leads to a lot of them going down to the wire 51%/49% so it leaves the actors very little time to prepare the next scenes.
It's a fun challenge though. Wouldn't trade it.
Congrats on the Emmy win!!! How are you all feeling?
Tohoru: Couldn't be prouder. It was a such a team effort from the start.
Tiff: So proud of the entire team!
Bernie: Ecstatic! This so is show out there in how the story is told that I'm thrilled it's getting this recognition!
For the cast, after having an entire season about the trolley problem have you looked at it in a new light?
Tohoru: "Yes, especially for this last episode coming up"
Tiffany: "No, it's always a struggle!"
All: I like the discussions around technology and philosophy that the show brings up. Are the topics of AI or philosophy something that interested any of you before the show? Have you gained any new interests about AI, philosophy, or anything else because of working on this show?
Tohoru: I have been around AI since college and actually had the great fortune to meet Marvin Minsky at MIT, when I had to go into his office to get his signature for some school requirement. I recall all these robots running around his lab. I even learned a little LISP back in the day and am now starting to learn PYTHON. This show did make me look at the ethics issues for the first time, however. The show has rekindled my interest in philosophy, in which I took some peripheral interest in college and shortly thereafter.
How do you go about creating a sci fi show without rehashing on existing scenes and plotlines that have been done before in other shows/stories?
I think the key is to find the fresh take on it.
Every modern Sci-fi AI show is about an AI trying to be "human" so we found our fresh take on it.
I believe our fresh takes are two fold,
Question to any/all: What is something that you didn't expect going into Artificial and has surprised you the most?
Bernie: How much the viewers would protect the characters. That's been really heart warming. I figured that the Twitch audience would always vote for the worst/chaotic thing to happen, but I've generally been wrong about that.
What are your opinions on using punctuation in titles?
For episodes? I like them a lot except sometimes they mess with websites when you share them. I remember when Lost just had ? for a title and it messed up some systems. - Bernie
When did you know this was going to work out? Right from the start, or was there any given moment or interaction that made you go ”yeah, that’s it!”?
Bernie: Definitely not right from the start. I think it was more gradual for me. We kept figuring out and then stacking on ways for the audience to be consequential, I think my first "yeah that's it" moment was the audience picked The Color Purple as a book for Sophie to read, and then realizing that she has to change her relationships and personality because of this book (one that the audience chose) - Bernie.
Tohoru: I've been trying to shift from thinking in those terms these days. I knew Bernie and his work from before, so as soon as he called me, and especially after I read the audition sides, I knew I was in for some sort of crazy adventure. He explained to me, that "This project is all one big experiment...that being said, it might not work" I was sold as that point! I did, however, see a sort of a "crossing over" mid-Season 2 where the audience and show started melding together into something very cool and exciting. That also was definitely a "yeah" moment for me.
To all: If you could live in any other sci-fi world, which one would you live in?
Tohoru: Blade Runner
Tiffany: Hunger Games
Bernie: The Matrix
which are the most influencial SF writers in your opinion?
SF = Science Fiction
Tohoru: Phillip K Dick
Bernie: HG Wells, Mary Shelley
Quite interesting indeed. Congratulations! If you mind me asking:
Might you be looking for a marketing & PR team/individual, maybe to help further boost your reach? How can they or interested sponsors approach you?
Would you be doing YouTube streams?
Would you be looking to stream in other web streaming services too?
What's the bigger picture?
Are you on discord?
What inspired your talented team to do this?
Any ideas on future collaborations?
Bernie, what medium are you curious about using to tell a story?
I'd be perfectly happy sticking to Twitch. There's so much more we can try to do there!
Buutt... I'm actually curious about Tik Tok. I don't have a solution yet, but I do find it fascinating.
Mei was diagnosed with a very particular type of leukemia. Why was that one chosen?
I believe it started with Co-creator Evan Mandery that set it as a specific type of leukemia, and then Alexandra who plays Mei steered it a bit to connect it with her own experiences.
So where do you think the future of AI is going?
I'll also add that I believe if you pooled the collective AI resources of the world today, you could make something WAY more advanced than our fictional Sophie.
So what's it like to be Tiffany, Tohoru, and Bernie, the stars and showrunner of Artificial the live Emmy and Peabody Award-winning interactive sci-fi series about an Artificial Intelligence human?
Tohoru: It's a great honor to be part of this incredible team. Been a blast working on the great material, and cool format with everyone since day 1, but definitely did not see the Peabody and Emmy coming. That part is a total, almost surreal thrill. I guess it's one of those cases of just "do what you love, and the rest will follow."
Bernie: It's fun and a lot of work! But I do get to wear a lot of hats.
Tiff: I'm really grateful and appreciative to be a part of this kind, chill, and awesome team. I always believed in Bernie and knew we were a part of something revolutionary...just happy to be a part of the process and history.
Howdy yall. Howd you guys get initial funding for the show? Who'd you have to pitch to?
Didn't expect an ama while lurking. Congrats on the win also @team
We just pitched to Twitch. They were looking to diversify their content on the platform with something different. Enter Artificial.
What was it like working with Hank Green in the past?
It was an incredible honor - He's extremely intelligent and honorable.
Also he's a very innovative thinker.
Looking at this concept I am reminded of two very specific instances where the concept of a 'collective influence' for the narrative was used to memorable effect. The first is the experience that was 'Twitch plays Pokemon' (Hail Helix), and the second is the short series made by Wham City Comedy called 'The Cry of Mann'. Did y'all do any research into other experiences like the one you're creating to get an idea of how you could structure your narrative? Or was this mostly just a shot-in-the-dark to see what would happen?
Very aware of Twitch plays Pokemon. Definitely a little inspiration there.
Unfamiliar with The Cry of Mann.
Most of my influence into this, (aside my from my previous work), would be what Jeff Gomez writes on the collective journey.
Also a rule of thumb I've had in the experiences that I've built is that if you the viewer do no interactivity and just sit there and watch, you should get a good story that you can follow and enjoy.
Participating in the narrative is encouraged but not required.
What are your thoughts on using the collective on Reddit as an alternative to Twitch for AI simulation in the future?
I think it would present the same challenges on Twitch.
This is all theory: - The collective of Reddit would always vote/steer to the chaotic and/or bad result (the troll result). The collective would have to embrace the AI and genuinely care for them to steer them on the right path.
Like I don't think Season 1 Artificial Audience was very "protective" of our Sophie, while I believe Season 2 audience is. More or less.
But it's a totally doable, just has to be presented in a very specific to reddit way.
It's been fun!
Any last questions before we wrap up?!
To Tiffany and Tohoru: If you could be any character in Artificial besides who you play, who would you be? Why?
Tiffany: I would be ADA, and I would be smarter, and I would take over the internet!
Tohoru: Ada, I've always wanted to play a glowing orb. I might do it with a Stephen Hawking voice though
What hat are you wearing Bernie?
Right now, my Overwatch x Tokidoki one.
Best scifi film?
This isn't the most "Sci-fi" but my two favorites would be Battle Royale and Dark City.
I'm sure Tohoru would say Blade Runner - Bernie