If we’re scared of artificial intelligence infiltrating our lives, it’s too late. Since 2011, iPhones have had it in the form of jaunty personal assistant, Siri. Currently scoring a B+ on the Turing Test, she becomes more human-like with each upgrade. But will she—or he depending on what voice you choose—ever replace human contact?
Canadian actor Laurence Dauphinais stands onstage, trying to forge a connection with her phone. She scared, alone and one of Canada’s first babies born from artificial insemination using anonymous donor sperm. She explores these themes using the electronic personal assistant in an unexpected display of vulnerability. The resulting dialogue is a surreal, occasionally amusing spiral of conversation.
Dauphinais, in searching for a connection with the software, reveals our dependency on technology but not just to ease the burden of our busy lives. We also look to it to fulfil our emotional needs. Director Maxime Carbonneau ensures there’s more to look at than just a woman with her phone. A live link projects the phone screen, and Dauphinais’ position onstage creates opposition or agreement with Siri. But this experiment still comes off as cold. No matter how personal the actor makes her story and much emotional range she displays, she’s talking to a piece of programming. As a device to frame her performance, it’s not needed. As much as this is a surprisingly dynamic piece of theatre, it’s down to the human element rather than the technological.