“No, no, Chalmers, the kitchen isn’t on fire. I’m making steamed beans.” On the sitcom Unlimited Steam you hear these kinds of bizarre statements all the time. It is one of the most watched live programs on streaming service Twitch that are made by artificial intelligence.
UnlimitedSteam trekt constant rond de duizend kijkers. De show is gebaseerd op het beroemde (en net zo bizarre) Simpsons-fragment Steamed Hams. In de sketch roostert schoolhoofd Seymour Skinner ham in de oven voor zijn humorloze baas Gary Chalmers. Maar dan vliegt het gerecht in brand en vult het huis zich met rook, terwijl Skinner doet alsof er niets aan de hand is.
In UnlimitedSteam op videoplatform Twitch wordt deze sketch eindeloos herhaald in twijfelachtige 3D-kwaliteit. Steeds verzint de kunstmatige intelligentie andere gerechten en verklaringen voor de brand.
Dat zorgt voor hilarische momenten. Skinner en Chalmers lopen constant tegen muren aan terwijl hun computerstemmen de krankzinnigste dialogen voeren.
Seinfeld, but with AI
A number of AI shows are now broadcast on Twitch. The series Nothing, forever started out as a parody of the sitcom Seinfeldwhich is often described as a show that is about nothing.
Nothing, forever plays just like Seinfeld takes place in apartments and eateries and revolves around a group of friends. The automated conversations are made with the GPT-3 language model and are often absurd. At random times a laugh track sounds.
The live stream quickly attracted attention. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld also responded to his series’ AI counterpart during a live show. “Great,” he says in a cynical tone. “Because 180 episodes wasn’t enough. Let’s make it 180 million!”
Transphobic remarks and insults
Two weeks after Nothing, forever started, the program slipped. According to Vice Larry (the pixel version of Jerry) made transphobic remarks. Twitch then temporarily took the live stream offline.
Creator Skyler Hartle went through the dust. “This is totally inconsistent with our views or values,” he said. Steps were then taken to ensure that it does not happen again. By now it is Nothing, forever into its second season. It revolves around new characters in a different setting.
Other AI shows also regularly suffer from foul language. So goes Skinner in an episode of Unlimited Steam completely over the top and he gets bogged down in a cannonade when his dish burns again.
AI shows as improv programs
Next Seinfeld and The Simpsons there are also AI versions of it Frasier and Star Trek. “The original shows have a clear formula,” says Ray Mallick, the creator of A.I. Star Trek. It gives the AI some tools to create new videos. “Each episode revolves around the same characters who have to solve a new problem or deal with a monster.”
But not all AI programs on Twitch follow a set format. For example, there is a talk show with deepfakes of celebrities who answer questions from viewers. And there is a program in which philosophers such as Plato and Socrates muse about life.
Serious computer makes it unintentionally funny
HowIsItManifested is the kind of informational program you would expect on the Discovery Channel. Only it consists of made-up facts and stories.
This is done on the basis of topics that viewers suggest. The computer adds a text, makes appropriate images and provides a voice that reads the information.
Developer Alex Tilkin interferes as little as possible, but keeps an eye on whether the videos comply with Twitch’s rules. The episodes go in all directions. For example, it deals with how scatting (a form of jazz singing) works and tells about the life of “a too smart man” and the origin of eggs (according to the program already in the box).
Not always good, sometimes magical
The creations of the computer are sometimes quite funny. “The hilarity is largely in the serious tone with which the computer reads absurd texts,” says Tilkin.
For now, this (unintentional) hilarity seems to be the main success formula for AI shows. But there is an audience for it. A.I. Star Trekcreator Mallick thinks the current shows are just the beginning and nothing is too crazy in the end. “As the AI models develop, we will see full-length movies with real-life characters,” he says.
But then there is work to be done. Mallick compares the dialogues in today’s AI shows to improv shows. “Not all scenes work, but when they do, the result is magical.”