Artificial intelligence may be about to take our jobs and incinerate us to save the planet, but there’s something purely entertaining about watching these different technologies discover the world.
There are highly questionable use cases, of course, and arguments about things like AI lawyers or AI art participation contests, but for every huge project with incredible potential, there are a hundred people doing weird and wonderful things with this developing technology.
Introducing Nothing, Forever. That’s the name of an ongoing Twitch stream that broadcasts AI-generated episodes of Seinfeld. The creators carefully avoid using the “S” word at all times, but the connection is made clear by the title, logo, and everything in the show itself. Seinfeld being “a show about nothing” was a joke that got a lot of action. “The show about nothing was just a joke in an episode many years later,” Jerry Seinfeld said in 2012, “and Larry and I are surprised to this day that it caught on as a way people describe the show, because to us it’s the opposite.”
The most striking thing about it, though you’ll have to watch a few minutes to understand, is how it sometimes gets the pacing of a given scene so perfect and that many of the jokes made by the characters are actually funny. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to think you’ve stumbled across a long-lost archive of unseen Seinfeld material, but it’s very clear that this has an idea of what it’s trying to create and it’s on the right track.
A brilliantly bizarre creation
Nor does it always work, which only adds to the bewilderment of watching. Characters will often malfunction when they move: the avatar “Elaine” just sat down and her leg seemed to make a semicircle around her torso before settling back. Sometimes they’ll speak and then stop, the scene paused and left to hang in the air, while unknown algorithms fly furiously silent and the Twitch chat remains in suspense.
Then there’s that human element, the Twitch chat itself, lifting the bizarre into the common. Good jokes are met with noise, certain lines become their own mini-memes for a few minutes, and things like the constant beeping of the microwave are now a beloved cameo. There’s almost this sense of encouraging artificial intelligence and a shared pleasure when it does something right.
The creators, Mismatch Media, say that Nothing, Forever is a show about nothing that goes on forever. Kind of like popular sitcoms of the past, except it never stops.” It runs constantly and generates new content every minute. “Everything you see, hear, or experience (except for the artwork and the laugh track) is always brand new content, generated by machine learning and AI algorithms.”
Uses AI technology including Open AI, Stable Diffusion and DALL-E, among others.
The big question I have is where the input data comes from. The episodes it generates, if you want to call them that, have unmistakable echoes of Seinfeld, even if they are original creations, while things like the characters, sets and dialogue pacing are aligned with the show.