AI FESTIVAL CURATOR CHELTENHAM SCIENCE FESTIVAL
Head Of Festival Programming, Dr Marieke Navin, was determined to place artificial intelligence front and centre at the 2019 Cheltenham Science Festival to take the event’s acclaimed status to the next level. Her ambition was to use AI to curate the event (alongside some well-known human curators) and to create a unique machine-inspired talk to excite and inspire festival goers.
Using 10 years of festival talks as our dataset, we used AI to generate hundreds of potential talks. But not any old AI: rather we trained a recurrent neural network named AIDA (after Ada Lovelace) to work its computational magic.
Four of AIDA’s suggestions were placed in a Twitter poll for the world to select a winner. As a result, Introvert Narwhals became a much-discussed event at the festival.
That’s not all. AIDA needed to sit alongside the human guest curators in the festival guide, so we gave her a striking modern look and used neural networks to generate a foreword of her own.
We also made a movie about AIDA’s creation to inspire and engage the festival crowds.
AIDA proved a great success. She featured in numerous articles and was asked to appear on BBC Radio for a breakfast-time Q&A session. To do this, we used a deep-learning SDK to create her voice. The results were intriguingly spooky. In other words, great radio.
Her festival event Introvert Narwhals was packed and even featured science presenter, Ashley Kent, playing her in human form. It doesn’t get better (or meta) than this.
Following the success of the event, Introvert Narwhals was transported to the Festival of Science In Katowice, Poland, in January 2020.
We’re proud that this project won a prestigious DMA gold award for Best use of AI.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
In 2020 AIDA became the face of the Cheltenham Science Festival @ Home – a stellar YouTube-powered version of the Festival during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let’s see where she goes next.
"I had no idea where to turn with this wild idea of an AI guest curator for the Cheltenham Science Festival 2019. When I saw Tiny Giant had created AI cocktails, I contacted them and hoped they wouldn’t laugh! In them I found kindred spirits, with the same energy and enthusiasm for creativity and innovation that we have at the Cheltenham Festivals. I’m really looking forward to continuing this collaboration."
— Dr. Marieke Navin - Cheltenham Science Festival Co-ordinator