In a twist of technology that only 30 Rock could have predicted, an AI-generated version of Seinfeld is now taking over Twitch. The stream, hosted by a channel called watchmeforever, uses generative artificial intelligence to create an infinite stream of Seinfeld-esque content online. The novel idea has taken root on the platform, and at time of publication, the stream has roughly 15,400 concurrent viewers.
The content comes at a time when generative AI seems to be cropping up everywhere. Here’s what you need to know about AI Seinfeld on Twitch.
What is AI Seinfeld?
AI Seinfeld is a Twitch stream called “Nothing, Forever” that plays AI-generated content based on Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s ’90s comedic sitcom, Seinfeld. The show has been formally running since Dec. 14, but the group behind it, Mismatch Media, just started sharing in the past week. It sports a chunky 3D pixel style that looks a video game, and computerized voices that deliver an endless stream of Seinfeld-esque antics.
Skyler Hartle, a member of Mismatch Media, told Polygon that the stream uses various AI software to bring the show to life. The text generation comes from OpenAI’s GPT-3 models and the speech comes from Azure Cognitive Services.
“In addition to the third party services we’ve used, we have a lot of proprietary generative algorithms that cause the show to be ‘formed’, so to be speak. We collectively call this logic the ‘director,’ as it is largely responsible for making sure all the individual pieces come together into a whole,” Hartle said via email. “It’s worth mentioning that we don’t generate the artwork or the laugh track — those are precanned assets, but we have ideas on how to do that in the future.”
Hartle told Polygon that the look mimicked the era of ’90s point-and-click games that came out around the same time as Seinfeld. “We thought it worked well with the overall vibe of the show and lended itself to the strange/eeriness, too, but the big goal was to have it be thematically relevant,” Hartle said over email.
This AI-generated version of Seinfeld doesn’t really compare to the original, but you can definitely see the influence of the original show in snippets of this version. In one part of the stream I watched, the characters started talking about creating a place where they could make their own pizza crust, which appears to be connected to a bit in Seinfeld where Kramer gets a business idea to open a pizzeria where guests make their own pizzas.
One popular clip actually has decent dialogue. It’s titled, “Elaine goes out with a guy who hates fruit.” In it, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George wander around Jerry’s apartment and talk about Elaine’s boyfriend who hates fruit and might be a “fruit-a-phobe.” However, the AI generation isn’t able to mimic the color and delivery of the actors, and it can be very difficult to tell who is saying what at points. You can view in the clip below.
The stream has already run into significant issues. On Feb. 5, Twitch suspended the “Nothing, Forever” channel for 14 days because the Jerry Seinfeld-like character made transphobic remarks live on stream. Xander, a staff member on Discord said, “none of what he said reflects any of our opinions.” One of the creators blamed a new AI model for the remarks. The incident revealed once again that AI can often perpetuate harmful and biased stereotypes and in this case, rhetoric.
Who is making the AI Seinfeld show?
The group making it is called Mismatch Media, and the people behind it describe themselves as “scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, technology professionals, and more,” on their website. The team called the Twitch show “Nothing, Forever” and the channel “watchmeforever.”
Hartle and co-creator Brian Habersberger approached the idea four years ago with the idea to make a generative show centered around the idea of “nothing.”
“We wanted to see if it was possible to build a new form of media — a generative show — with a lot of the tools and methods that were starting to take off, like machine learning. We wanted to create a sorta surreal, eerie, David Lynch-esque (Rabbits was a major inspiration) show that could run forever as more of an art experiment than anything else,” Hartle told Polygon.
On the Twitch page, a description of the stream reads, “Nothing, Forever is a show about nothing, that happens forever. Kinda like popular sitcoms of the past, except that it never stops.” The channel description promises to run 365 days a year and deliver new content “every minute.”
The plan, in the future, is to create multiple shows under the channel, and to provide different kinds of content. Hartle also said the team aims to integrate other interactive elements into the show so that viewers can influence things.
Why are people watching the AI Seinfeld show?
Seinfeld is one of the most beloved and recognizable sitcoms of the past few decades, but the appeal goes beyond that. Viewing the AI generated show on Twitch allows people to partake in a unique online communal experience that can feel like live television, as people watch the characters act and react to the various scenarios in the world. Additionally, we get to watch and participate in the Twitch chat, which makes it more fun. (Like, yes, please spam the chat with the KomodoHype each time a character complains about a girlfriend or boyfriend.)
The stream also shows off what generative AI is capable of. It’s one in a long series of recently popular AI applications. ChatGPT, which can be used for a variety of applications like writing essays, became an overnight sensation due to its natural-language output. Other software like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Free AI Art Generator is being used to create memes and recreate the look of certain directors’ films. AI Seinfeld is just the next cursed step in the evolution of consumer AI.
Update (Feb. 3): This article was edited to include comments from one of the AI Seinfeld creators, Skyler Hartle.
Update (Feb. 6): “Nothing, Forever” has been banned from Twitch for 14 days after one of its characters made transphobic comments. This story has been updated to reflect that new information.