BEN’S ROBOT

Production Company

Roast Beef Productions

Website

www.roastbeeftv.com

Nationality

United Kingdom

Creative Team

Roy Cohen, Director
Mike Lerner, Producer

Project Elements

Documentary film (theatrical, TV interactive game), web, mobile

Genre

Non-fiction

Language

English

Target Audience

The film will find its core audience among technology-savvy individuals. We already have a relationship with Wired, which is interested in helping promote the project. TV broadcasters are interested in the film for their Human Interest slots, which makes us believe wide audiences will take interest in this project.

Logline

Ben Goertzel, one of the most colourful figures in artificial intelligence, must overcome personal, professional and financial problems on the way to creating the next step in evolution.

Synopsis

Ben Goertzel is one of the most respected figures in artificial intelligence. He’s also one of the most colourful ones.
Committed to creating an advanced form of artificial general intelligence, which would genuinely simulate human consciousness, Ben has relocated to Hong Kong. There, he receives financing from the government. Now, Ben must present his investors a child-like robot that would be a significant improvement on current technology. If he succeeds, Ben is likely to get more funding to continue designing a robot that can learn from humans. If he fails, Ben might have to start all over again.
To make his deadline, Ben leads a group of scientists from four continents. Together, they are hoping to defeat other teams in the race for the creation of a truly human-like artificial intelligence. It is a race for prestige, funding, and – if you choose to believe it – the creation of the next step in evolution.
The main members of Ben’s team are Reitung Luan, Ben’s wife, who is responsible for the team programming robot’s language mechanism; Mark Tilden, a former NASA engineer, who is building the robot’s body; and David Hanson, a former Disney sculptor turned award-winning roboticist, who will build the robot’s human-like face.
Each team member has to deal with personal conflicts: David’s wife and 7-year-old son are struggling to get used to Hong Kong – the first place they have lived in outside of Austin, Texas. Ben’s family life is also affected by his work: Reitung, 14 years younger from Ben, is often annoyed with her husband-boss’ 12-hour workdays.
Ben experiences unforeseen difficulties when his staff starts questioning the ethical aspects of their work. In weekly lab meetings, Ben tries to convince his team that creating an artificial intelligence by and for civilians (as opposed to military organisations) makes it likely that it will be put to good use in the future. But some of his employees remain skeptical.
Will Ben’s team stay in the race to build the first child-like robot? Do we want them to?

Project Stage

Filming is ongoing. Delivery scheduled for December 2015. In talks with BBC. In talks with ZDF, which is very interested in a new media element.
In talks with new media producers.

Budget

Total: $570 200

Film $386,000
Web $20,000
Game $164,000

Confirmed Partners

Danish broadcaster DR

Partnerships Sought

Co-production partners in relevant countries (especially China and other Asian countries), financiers, game designers and transmedia producers.

Main Company Biography

Roast Beef Productions is a multiple-award winning company based in London. We have had great success working with experienced directors, as well as first-time directors who bring original ideas and story worlds to the screen. We have won a number of industry awards including Academy Award Nomination for Best Documentary Feature 2012, six Sundance Awards (including Grand Jury and Special Jury), Emmy Nomination for Best Documentary, two Grierson Awards for Best Documentary, Prix Italia, The Alfred Dupont Award and BFI Vision Award.
Our filmography includes Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Hell And Back Again and Afghan Star, among others.

Attending Team

Anne Lund

Anne Lund

Producer

Anne Lunde is the Development Producer at Roast Beef Productions. After graduating from The European Film College, Anne worked as an assistant in a Danish production company, Fridthjof Film, on documentaries for TV and cinema. She studied at the UK’s National Film and Television School and Prague Film School.

Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen

Director

Roy Cohen is an Israeli-French Writer and Director. A film-making fellow at ESoDoc, Roy has been selected for fellowships by several Israeli film institutions and was invited to selective film workshops around the world. Roy is the Creative Director of Gottlieb Productions, where he develops the transmedia fiction projects. He has written, produced and directed videos for different tech companies. Since 2010, Roy has conducted interviews with philosophers and scientists about the future of emerging technologies. Roy graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he conducted Neuroscience research and studied film-making.

Resources