You Can Now Watch An AI-Generated Seinfeld Episode ... Forever

"Seinfeld" may have had a long run, but it's incomparable to the A.I.-generated never-ending episode of the show that is "Nothing, Forever." A surreal experiment in machine learning (or, rather, machine joking), this iteration of "Seinfeld" features crudely animated versions of the main cast talking like stilted automated voice operators and behaving like characters from a 90s sitcom if they were written entirely by a computer algorithm. The project, which launched on December 14, 2022, but has gained significant traction this week, is currently broadcasting on an infinite stream on Twitch.

Founders Skyler Hartle and Brian Habersberger describe "Nothing, Forever" as a continuously evolving exploration into procedurally generated entertainment, endlessly reacting to the Twitch stream chat and becoming more adept at constructing coherent scenarios. For the time being, the appeal of watching the "show" lies in the bizarre way the A.I. writes comedy and strings scenes together. There are plenty of setups with awkward silence instead of a punchline and characters eerily facing a corner of the wall instead of each other. Meanwhile, the program hasn't learned how to sync the laugh track properly, so an unsettling crowd of chuckles will accompany a line of dialogue before the joke is finished. The general idea, though, is a rough imitation of "Seinfeld:" characters talk about mundane activities like eating sandwiches, getting haircuts, and watching movies while the scene intermittently cuts to the stand-up routines of "Larry Feinberg."

An algorithm about nothing

The dreamlike, almost Lynchian atmosphere of the program (David Lynch's "Rabbits" was one of the inspirations for the idea, according to Skyler Hartle) wasn't necessarily an accident. Hartle, who works as a project manager for Microsoft Azure, explained to Vice's Motherboard:

"The actual impetus for this was it originally started its life as this weird, very, off-center kind of nonsensical, surreal art project ... But then we kind of worked over the years to bring it to this new place. And then, of course, generative media and generative AI just kind of took off in a crazy way over the past couple of years."

Hartle added that the goal is to eventually be able to produce a "Netflix-level quality" show with AI technology. That might not be such a lofty ambition with the Open AI research lab's GPT-3 language model, which drives the text generation. Philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers has observed that the model shows "hints of general intelligence" and "seems to be closer to passing the Turing test than any other system to date," meaning that its text creations may one day become indistinguishable from human speech. That's both a fascinating and incredibly spooky thought about the far-reaching capabilities of A.I. In the meantime, hop on Twitch and see what new restaurant has opened this time around in the cybernetic universe of "Nothing, Forever."