What’s the Deal With This AI-Generated “Seinfeld” Video?

An AI-generated Twitch channel is showing an endless homage to the classic NBC sitcom, though it's more weird than funny

A screenshot from "Nothing, Forever," an AI-generated take on "Seinfeld"
A screenshot from "Nothing, Forever," an AI-generated take on "Seinfeld"

While we’ve been concerned with the proliferation of artificial intelligence in both art and text, some users are creating using the technology for harmless, albeit weird fun. Witness: Nothing Forever, a 24/7 Twitch channel that uses AI and machine learning (ML) to create an endless homage to the show Seinfeld.

Now let’s be clear: This isn’t officially Seinfeld. It’s four blocky virtual characters who interact and talk about nothing in a city apartment with an occasional slap-bass soundtrack. And it’s “AI generated, always on, always weird” as the channel notes.

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Creators Skylar Hartle and Brian Habersberger recently told Motherboard that they use a combination of machine learning, generative algorithms and cloud services to build the show; the characters speak to each other using GPT-3, OpenAI’s language model.

Sample “Nothing, Forever” conversation: “So Fred, I think I’m taking on a new hobby. What do you think?” asks Yvonne (aka Elaine). “That would be pretty impressive,” says Fred (not George). “Plus, if you ever get bored at parties you can pull out your juggling balls and become the life of the party.” [Long pause followed by slap bass.] And then “Kakler” (Kramer) complains about getting bit by a goose and the audience roars with laughter.

So it’s not actually funny, but it is kind of engrossing, particularly if you follow along with the streaming chat. It’s definitely surreal: Fifteen minutes into streaming, I heard Fred complaining about online dating because “what if she’s scary when she takes off her mask.” And the animation is straight out of the early ’90s — blocky, minimal and featuring characters prone to odd actions (“WTF is Fred scratching his butt?” asks one streamer.)

Enough people seem to be enjoying the surreal sitcom: As Vice reported, views of the channel jumped from a few hundred streamers to 47,000 followers and 11,000 active viewers by Thursday morning. But who knows if that enjoyment will last. It’s like what “Larry” says during one of his virtual stand-up moments: “I passed a store that had a sign up that said ‘closed due to lack of interest.’ I thought, ‘huh, that store must not have been very interesting.’”

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