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Stargate SG-1 was always able to explore the effects of technology on humankind — and now the series is doing it again, almost 15 years after the last episode aired, as members of the original Stargate SG-1 cast have reunited with co-creator Brad Wright to do a table read of a brand new Stargate script.
The twist? The script itself has been completely written using Google Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), as part of a special event set to premiere on The Companion, a premium science fiction magazine and podcast platform, which went live on May 21.
Dubbed Stargate A.I. 2.0, this event marks the second installment of the Stargate A.I. project. Google’s A.I. Lead, Laurence Moroney, builds on the A.I.'s previous attempt with a far more advanced system, as he aims to have it replicate a human-written script. And as fans who might have already tuned in to version 1.0 will quickly notice, there's already a huge difference in the quality of writing being produced by the new A.I., in that it's noticeably better.
"One of the first things that I read had no dialogue," Wright tells SYFY WIRE. "It was an action description scene for a character that was not in Stargate, but it was definitely a science fiction scene. It was short but it was actual screenwriting because it defined a scene. It defined a moment. It created intention. All of the things that good screenwriting does."
He continues, "That's what blew me away. It wasn't just a bunch of [character] dialogue that it was parroting back to us in a different way. It was a scene."
While the first version of this project was simply Wright and Moroney dipping their toes into this experiment straight out of science fiction itself, Wright didn't want to do a second version unless Moroney really thought it could create some kind of evolutionary leap forward. And as 2.0 proves, it has. Not only does the A.I. create an overarching narrative that works, but the dialogue sounds like the characters themselves — right down to their sense of humor.
That's partly what prompted the change in the cast for the second outing of this project. Whereas the first version saw most of the actors behind the scientific characters coming together for a read through, this version features a reunion of most of the SG-1 team members: Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), and none other than Jack O'Neill himself, as portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson, giving his first acting performance in a decade.
"After that [first] experience, I realized more was possible. There's a lot of characters in Stargate, but I started with these guys and I wanted to go back to the original band members," says Wright. "The first time the actors were jumping through hoops to make Daniel sound like Daniel and Sam sound like Sam. But there were times in version 2, especially with O'Neill, where it didn't just get the way he speaks. It got the way he's a dog with a bone."
Wright does note the absence of the final member of the beloved SG-1 team: Teal'c (Christopher Judge), a Jaffa who hails from the planet Chulak but who soon becomes a core part of SG-1. "Teal'c doesn't say much. So it makes sense not to include him at this point."
Of course, much like most cast reunions, one of the joys of Stargate A.I. 2.0 is seeing the actors play off each other as their characters once more. And that is more than true of the Stargate SG-1 cast.
"When you see these guys together on the screen, you can see that the affection is palpable. It's real. Michael's face lit up when he saw Rick," says Wright. "You spend that much time with people, and if you ... end up loving each other ... it's a wonderful thing to see. I think that's what fans will appreciate the most."
There hasn't been much of an update about the new Stargate series that had previously been in the works before Amazon bought MGM. But could the success of the first Stargate A.I. project, and the developmental leap of the second, result in a whole Stargate audio series written primarily by A.I.?
"I don't know how many of these we're going to do," says Wright. "There were three Stargate series as well. So we might move on to Atlantis. We've already had McKay and Keller."
The Stargate A.I. reunion read-through video premiered on May 21. The video is available on The Companion. You can sign up for a membership here.
Looking for more sci-fi in the meantime? Sci-fi hits Battlestar Galactica, Resident Alien, La Brea, Heroes and more are streaming now on Peacock.