New play about AI ethics hits the stage in Auckland

Jacob Johnson
Source: 1News

Think Frankenstein, with a feminist and futuristic twist.

Written by award winning New Zealand author Emily Perkins, The Made is a play that explores some of the ethical issues that sentient artificial intelligence could bring for humanity.

"My character, Arie, is a former sex bot, in an era where robots are incredibly common," says actress Hannah Tasker-Poland.

Veteran actress Alison Bruce plays the lead role of Alice, a scientist, who's set out to reprogram robots with emotions.

"Ironically I'm creating this feeling, empathetic robot, but actually my life is a disaster, emotionally," she says.

Even though the play takes place in the future, director Colin McColl says it isn't a far cry from real life.

"I knew nothing about AI so I was surprised to see how advanced it is," he says.

"There are places like Japan, of course, where they have whole hotels that are run by robots."

As for what audiences can expect, both Tasker-Poland and Bruce say the play is funny, with an important underlying message.

"It brings up all these questions around where do ethics and morality come in if we are allowing this robot to feel true emotion?" Tasker-Poland says.

"Who knows how that's going to turn out. I feel quite unsettled about it, because, you know, humans are messy."

The Made, produced by Auckland Theatre Company, opens at Auckland's ASB Waterfront Theatre on Thursday.