Jerry Seinfeld is doing a monologue in a club: “Today I would like to talk about what it is like to live in a small town,” he says into the microphone.
“You can't go to the supermarket without meeting everyone, right?
The supermarket is a neighborhood patio”.
Canned laughter is heard.
The joke is not funny, but let's give it a while.
The speaker isn't actually Jerry Seinfeld, and the episode in front of my screen isn't from the original TV series.
I'm on the WatchMeForever Twitch channel that offers the show inspired by the
Nothing, Forever (Nothing, Always)
and which is broadcast all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 a year.
The pixelated animation design of each scene is inspired by video games
Point & Click
from the 90s and seems somewhat archaic, but the main characters of the emblematic series (Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, who here are called Larry, Yvonne, Fred and Zoltan) are perfectly distinguishable and their voices, although they sound robotic , are those of the original cast.
The scenes follow one after the other without any correlation.
The episodes last less than a minute: there is an opening scene in which Jerry does a monologue in a club and various scenes that take place in the protagonist's New York apartment.
There is no plot and the dialogues are absurd, illogical and quite crazy.
And yet, it doesn't matter: at the moment I write these lines we are more than 8,800 people watching and the chat on the right is going at full speed, with users commenting second by second on what is happening.
there is already an army of fans who post moments of the series.
what we see is not
but in a way, it's
In the third episode of the fourth season of the hit series, created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, entitled
, the television network NBC asks Jerry to present an idea to develop a television series.
Jerry and George come up with one that excites them: to do a series “about nothing”.
"Everybody's doing something, we're doing nothing!" exclaims George.
The episode in question delved so far into metafiction (
, the series, ended up premiering on NBC, starring Jerry Seinfeld himself, while George's character was the
by Larry David) that the definition they made of their series within the series became the definition of the original series.
At this moment we are already 13,000 people on Twitch looking at the most chaotic and absurd expression of that nothingness, commenting live on the moments when it seems that it is going to become something.
The algorithm may not know how to count things gracefully yet, but sometimes it comes close or succeeds without meaning to.
“Have you heard that the coffee shop around the corner has bought an
machine ?” Elaine asks.
“Great, so I don't have to carry my machine everywhere,” replies
Nothing, Forever's Jerry.
A day in the metaverse: deserted sets, flirting avatars and children talking to strangers
is "a series where nothing happens and that always happens," according to the Twitch channel's own description.
It is an experiment launched in mid-December 2022 —although it has gained traction in the last week— by Skyler Hartle and Brian Habersberger under the banner of Mismatch Media, a media lab focused on creating experimental forms of television shows and video games, through from generative technologies and other machine learning technologies such as OpenAI's GPT-3, an autoregressive learning text generator used to generate human-like text.
Which means that everything you see and hear is new content that is generated every moment by robots from the dialogues of the characters and the scenes of the television series.
in addition to using chat comments, which help the system understand which jokes are most amusing among the community.
“Apart from the design and the canned laugh effect, everything else is being generated on the spot, including dialogue, monologue, directing (camera cuts, close-ups, shot duration, scene duration…), movement of the character and music," wrote one of the creators of the experiment on Reddit.
That's why everything we see is different, yet somehow familiar, making us wonder about the possibility of a not-so-dystopian future where we can be entertained all the time with content generated by algorithms that don't need to sleep or pause for eat.
“As media gets better, we have this idea that, at any moment, we can turn on the future equivalent of Netflix and watch a show perpetually, non-stop, as much as we want,” said Skyler Hartle, the co-creator of
in an interview with
“Not only do you have seven seasons of a series, you have seven hundred or infinite seasons of a series that has new content when you want it.
That became one of our fundamental goals”, she continued, “our basic principle was, can we create a show that can generate entertaining content forever?
Because that is truly where we see the future emerging.
Our goal is to get a show that has quality on Netflix level.”
Exterior of the New York building of 'Nothing, Forever'.
“I feel like I'm watching the equivalent of
, or any simple Atari video game from the late 1970s or early 1980s.
What people saw and thought 'what bullshit', because they were not understanding its potential: from that video game to
The Last Of Us
only 30 or 40 years have passed", explains the director and screenwriter Miguel Esteban, creator together with EL PAÍS to Raúl Navarro from
The End of Comedy
and with Joaquín Reyes and Ernesto Sevilla from the animated series
which will premiere soon on HBO Max and who, because of this journalist, has spent hours watching
“This is the first series created entirely by Artificial Intelligence: yes, it may not be of great quality, but as an experiment it is amazing.
Let's think that this is the worst thing that has been done to date.
As of now, it can only get better,” she assures.
For Esteban, watching
is hypnotic: “Somehow they talk like the characters in
, they deal with the topics that they deal with in
What happens is that they do it at a very primary level, but the essence is there”.
“This is progress.
I don't know if I like the direction we're moving in, but progress is without a doubt," says Alejandro Pérez, a visual effects professional and creator of
(videos that imitate the appearance and voice of a person) of
when asked about
and its implications for the future:
Right now, of all the shows on Netflix, the one with the fireplace could already be done with Artificial Intelligence."
In 2015, the platform premiered
Fireplace in your home: the crackling of birch wood
which was, no more and no less, a crackling Christmas fireplace in high definition.
Soon after, it slipped into its most popular content.
“In the future, it may be possible to speed up productions a lot”
continues Alejandro Pérez, “every time less people, technical or artistic, will be needed to make a work.
There will be a very high percentage of the population that will hate the most dehumanized works, but I have no doubt that they will have their audience.
You don't need the best auteur cinema to put you in the background while you iron, it's worth it with
Can a robot make me laugh?
Fans of the original series will recognize Kramer and Jerry in 'Nothing, Forever.'
Jerry Seinfeld is doing a monologue in a club: "I have a bed so big I have room for all my insecurities."
Barely a few hours have passed since the start of the experiment of watching
and the fake Jerry has already made a joke that is quite funny.
Another rather curious one, also from fake Jerry, has been: “Do you know what a dog that does magic is called?
A robot has managed to make me laugh twice, based on a type of humor that,
It had all the ingredients to be funny.
“The basis of Artificial Intelligence is that it can learn”, explains Miguel Esteban, “and we can feed it with the best humor in history, so it would have more culture than any comedian.
And a processor potentially much more powerful than a brain."
In this way, Esteban explains, the humor of an Artificial Intelligence could start out basic, become more sophisticated "and reach a point where it is so intelligent that it seems incomprehensible to us."
At this point, Artificial Intelligence itself would have to lower its level so that we could understand its jokes: “I like to imagine that this can happen with plastic art or with the poetry of Artificial Intelligence, that it finds a pictorial form as groundbreaking as the abstract was in its day,
“Right now he only knows how to use resources that he has learned through repetition.
The text generators know many jokes by heart and can create new jokes by changing one word for another, but they are formulas”, says Alejandro Pérez.
“I think that at the moment the machine cannot understand humor, it may never be able to, nor can it laugh.
But perhaps he will be able to find the springs that make us laugh, if he reaches a certain degree of abstraction.
Something doesn't have to be funny to her, but structurally fits what is expected of her, just as imagers learn that trees grow on the ground and not in the clouds.
But the degree of abstraction, anticipation and surprise of humor is something much, much more complex, ”he opines.
I WAS WATCHING THE INFINITE AI GENERATED SEINFELD STREAM AND WHAT THE FUCK LMAO pic.twitter.com/QfNFNOHjJI
— the j (@queenbiscuit311) February 2, 2023
Perhaps we are demanding a level from a machine that we do not even demand as spectators.
The question is perhaps not so much when you will be able to do a more sophisticated type of humor or how clever or original is the material that Artificial Intelligence offers, but rather, do we really care?
Netflix paid $100 million in 2018 to renew
for just one year.
Later, in 2021,
It also took over the rights to broadcast
worldwide: the amount of the purchase has not been made public, but the US media suggested that it would be above 500 million dollars.
Among the popular titles of the main platforms are always series, generally within the comedy genre, which ended years ago such as
Parks & Recreations
Nostalgia is still the most profitable.
Human beings return to our safe places to reunite with our acquaintances.
We watch the same episodes of the same series over and over again: we don't look for novelty, but to get excited by the same characters and laugh at the same jokes.
And if a robot can give us all of that,
, maybe we won't be so picky about accepting the offer.
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Nothing, Forever universe,
we were 14,000 people online.
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