Thousands of people at a time are watching “Nothing, Forever,” an AI-generated and nonsensical version of “Seinfeld” that streams perpetually on Twitch.
When Motherboard reported on the show on Tuesday, the Twitch account that the show runs on, @watchmeforever, only had around a hundred followers and sixteen viewers. By Thursday morning, the channel rose to 47,000 followers and a steady stream of around 11,000 active viewers at once, making the show the first AI-generated sitcom with a growing audience.
The co-creators of the show, Skylar Hartle and Brian Habersberger, told Motherboard that they used a combination of machine learning, generative algorithms, and cloud services to build the show. This means that the characters are all speaking to each other using GPT-3, OpenAI’s language model, which becomes clear as the characters are often not looking at each other when they are talking and rarely make sense.
There is something about this nonsense that reads to viewers as being humorous and interesting in an off-kilter way. The Twitch livestream’s chat is constantly blowing up with people’s responses to the conversations the characters are having. Some people repeat interesting dialogue or express how scared they are when the characters are being “meta” or “self-aware,” or how they’re confused by the placement of laugh tracks after unfunny lines. “.....” and “???” are commonly written in the chat.
“Nothing, Forever” is perhaps so good at retaining a steady stream of viewers because it is streaming non-stop, and has been since December 14. This means you can watch the show for as long as you can stay awake or leave it on in the background even when you are asleep.
Twitter user @rudeism wrote, “That new AI-generated Seinfeld channel on Twitch is pulling me in way more than anything on Netflix does. I think my brain might actually be rotted and I can't stop watching it.” Another user, @NickyRyan_, echoed the same sentiments: “I can't stop watching. I can't stop. This is my life now. You have all lost me to AI-generated Seinfeld.”
Though "Nothing, Forever" might seem frivolous, or simply too strange, it could also be a harbinger of where things are heading. AI is working its way into more industries and artists are worried that they could soon be replaced by machines trained on their work, without compensation. Netflix has already used AI to create a new anime short film, to the outrage of fans.
Hartle told Motherboard that he and Habersberg had the idea that with AI technology, people will be able to turn on a show perpetually.
“You don't just have seven seasons of a show, you have seven hundred, or infinite seasons of a show that has fresh content whenever you want it. And so that became one of our grounding pillars,” he said.