I’ve made a terrible mistake. I introduced my colleagues to a channel on Twitch that streams AI-generated episodes of Seinfeld, and now they’re all distracted watching what feels like a gruesome but funny car crash in which no human was hurt or even involved.
The show’s called Nothing, Forever and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using OpenAI’s GPT-3. Here’s the channel description:
Nothing, Forever is a show about nothing, that happens forever. Kinda like popular sitcoms of the past, except that it never stops. Nothing, Forever is always-on, runs 365 days of the year, and delivers new content every minute. Everything you see, hear, or experience (with the exception of the artwork and laugh track) is always brand new content, generated via machine learning and AI algorithms.
The show itself looks like a very bad PS1 game or a very good PC game from the late ’90s and is actually kinda funny in an absurd kind of way. Whenever anybody sits down, they lock into this weird, slow-motion movement as their body bends unnaturally, and everybody walks like they’re a character in QWOP. It’s unintentionally hilarious.
None of “Jerry’s” (who I believe they actually call Larry since nobody involved in this wants to be sued into the ground) stand-up bits are funny, which makes the silence and occasional miss-timed laugh track even funnier, but I did have a few moments of genuine laughter.
There was a moment when “Jerry’s” talking about how the grocery story isn’t a great place to hear celebrity gossip. He said something like how it’s difficult to get juicy details while you’re picking up a carton of eggs. There’s a brief beat of silence before the laugh track kicks in, and I guffawed wondering if the AI put that laugh track there because it knows egg prices are absurd right now. There’s another bit where “Elaine” talks about how the city’s passing an ordinance against jaywalking and how she’ll never get anywhere in the city anymore. I don’t understand why, but I laughed along with the laugh track.
AI programs are doing a lot these days, up to and including my very job. I’ve never seen an episode of Seinfeld, so I can’t vouch for whether or not an AI can faithfully reproduce what people tell me is one of the all-time great television shows. But the only thing that seems missing is that iconic funky baseline, which I imagine is hard to play if you have 37 fingers.