Broadway World – Among the highlights of the 2021 New Media Film Festival® was an animated short featuring “Boy Scientist”, an original song written by Dr. Ron Danziger, that is part of a bigger project: ALAN THE MUSICAL created by Dr. Susan Lim and Dr. Christina Tan.
The creation of “Boy Scientist” began when Dr. Danziger crossed paths with one Dr. Christina Tan in their first year of medical school in Australia. Both soon realized they were very interested in the field of Neurology and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Dr. Tan shared ALAN THE MUSICAL with Dr. Danziger, which she had been working on with Dr Susan Lim. The story follows a young female scientist and her artificially intelligent stuffed toy companion.
Their dream was to use music, film and theater to communicate and open up a global discussion on the sensitive, controversial topic of what is life and what is not life.
In an epic mash-up of science meeting art, Dr. Danziger, together with composer Joi Barua and Matthew Eymard, created 15 original songs for ALAN THE MUSICAL. Together with the French composer Manu Martin, the team completed the musical score and had a staged reading at UCLA School of Theater.
“We wanted to explore what the future would look like when humans have to co-exist with smart technology,” Dr. Tan tells me in our recent interview, “and we also wanted to think about how we could best portray concepts like loneliness, because we see it so much in our patients. It was also very important to us to represent women in STEM, which is not something we see very often in media.” Serendipitously, Drs. Danziger and Tan are currently both neurology residents together in Los Angeles.
In November 2019, the Lim Fantasy of Companionship for Piano and Orchestra, inspired by the musical numbers in ALAN THE MUSICAL, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by the world-famous London Symphony Orchestra, London Voices and renowned pianist Tedd Joselson. It was mastered by Greg Calbi in January 2020 at Sterling Sound Studios in New Jersey and the album was released earlier this year.
“A lot of portrayals of AI are scary, and the dangers of robotics and AI are highlighted frequently.” Dr. Danziger tells me, “We want to reiterate that with any technology there are dangers, but also positive aspects. AI is inevitably going to take more and more presence in our lives, so why not start a conversation about it in a friendly manner so that we can be more prepared and thoughtful?”
The animated short film of “Boy Scientist” garnered wins from the prestigious Cannes World Film festival and the 2021 New Media Film Festival®, among others.
The thoughtful consideration of unintended consequences of AI by these multi-talented neurologists in training reassures me about the future. In their hands, AI technology will surely evolve in ways that benefit both humanity and the earth in the years and decades ahead. You can listen to their recently released album on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music , and find more information on ALAN THE MUSICAL at www.alanthemusical.com and www.limfantasy.com.
by Bea Mienik