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Reverse engineering the human: artificial intelligence and acting theory

Soto-Morettini, Donna



Experience Bryon

J. Mark Bishop

Deirdre McLaughlin

Jess Kaufman


In two separate papers, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Robotics researcher Guy Hoffman takes as a starting point that actors have been in the business of reverse engineering human behaviour for centuries. In this paper, I follow the similar trajectories of AI and acting theory (AT), looking at three primary questions, in the hope of framing a response to Hoffman's papers: (1) How are the problems of training a human to simulate a fictional human both similar to and different from training a machine to simulate a human? (2) How are the larger questions of AI design and architecture similar to the larger questions that still remain within the area of AT? (3) Is there anything in the work of AI design that might advance the work of acting theorists and practitioners? The paper explores the use of “swarm intelligence” in recent models of both AT and AI, and considers the issues of embodied cognition, and the kinds of intelligence that enhances or inhibits imaginative immersion for the actor, and concludes with a consideration of the ontological questions raised by the trend towards intersubjective, dynamic systems of generative thought in both AT and AI.


Soto-Morettini, D. (2018). Reverse engineering the human: artificial intelligence and acting theory. In E. Bryon, J. M. Bishop, D. McLaughlin, & J. Kaufman (Eds.), Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance. Routledge

Acceptance Date Jan 23, 2018
Publication Date Jan 23, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 24, 2019
Publisher Routledge
Book Title Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance
Chapter Number 5
ISBN 9780367893071
Keywords Embodied cognition, artificial intelligence, acting theory, swarm intelligence, imaginative immersion,
Public URL


Reverse Engineering the Human (53 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance on 23 January 2018, available online:

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