The AI-Generated, Never-Ending Seinfeld Twitch Stream, Explained
using a combination of ai tools, a twitch creator has been streaming an endless Seinfeld-like episode, and now tens of thousands of people are watching it
In early December 2022, a Twitch creator called watchmeforever, real name Skyler Hartle, began streaming something that looks like an 80s-era Nintendo game depicting Larry David’s 90s sitcom Seinfeld. Since he started the stream, called NOTHING, FOREVER, it’s run almost continuously, playing an endlessly generated Seinfeld-like episode. But not a lot of people were really paying attention until this week, when some chatter on Reddit gave it the platform it needed to go viral.
NOTHING, FOREVER takes place mostly in the Jerry-character’s (Larry) apartment, where he banters with Yyvonne (Elaine), Fred (George), and Kakler (Kramer). Also, Larry does standup, like in the opening and closing scenes bookending real Seinfeld episodes. A mimic of the real show’s transition-scene bass line sometimes marks the stream’s next scene, and a laugh track plays between the characters’ robotic lines of dialogue. Most of the time, the script is strange, but it’s occasionally interesting, such as the following exchange between Larry and Fred about death and the afterlife:
Fred: Do you think when we die, that’s it, or do you think there might be something else, after this life?
Larry: Well Fred, I’m more of a scientist than a philosopher, so I can’t say for sure. But if I had to guess, there’s probably something more out there. We don’t know what happens when we die, but it’s comforting to think that life doesn’t just end with death. Maybe we become a part of something bigger, or maybe our souls go on to find peace and solace in a better place. Who knows? All I’m sure of is that death is just the beginning of something even more mysterious and wonderful. So if anything, I think that means life is even more precious and worth living to the fullest. What do you think? What are your thoughts on the afterlife?
Hartle told TechCrunch that NOTHING, FOREVER is powered by a collection AI tools:
It uses OpenAI’s GPT-3 Davinci model to generate the ‘script’
The Unity game engine produces the stream’s visual content
Azure’s Cognitive Speech service (presumably) generates the actual dialogue from GPT-3’s script
The project is a collaboration between Hartle and co-creator Brian Habersberger, who manage NOTHING, FOREVER under the auspices of a venture called Mismatch Media. The stream will presumably run as long as the amount of money coming from its Patreon page justifies the cost of maintaining it. It has a Discord, Instagram and, most interestingly, a Fandom-hosted Wiki, where watchers are cataloging lore based on the dialogue, and documenting emergent patterns in the stream.
And though random and ultimately meaningless, the show’s had a few recurring themes. One such theme is the world’s laws, which include mandates that Fridays are car free, the town must transition to green energy, if you’re a citizen of NYC, you have to wear striped shirts, and you have to wear a clown nose during rush hour, to “promote cheer.”
Another subject Larry and co. have hit on multiple times is aliens. In the show, aliens live secretly “among us,” aliens have invaded, Larry was abducted by aliens, Larry thinks the aliens plan to steal Christmas presents, aliens may have initially appeared as rocks, one of whom is known to have said “take me to your leader”, and Yvonne thinks aliens run the fish market.
David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel Infinite Jest describes an information superweapon at the center of a geopolitical conflict between several governments and a terrorist organization in a fictional version of North America where corporations bid to name the next calendar year (the book mostly takes place during the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment). This superweapon is actually a film — one that’s so entertaining, viewers find it impossible to stop watching, repeatedly, and so they eventually die.
Using technology to exploit the relationship between neurochemistry and human behavior isn’t without precedent. During the last century, food scientists so effectively engineered corporate food products to better activate reward centers in our brains that today 40% of the 334 million Americans alive are obese. Is there any reason to expect that the first entertainment studio to embrace AI and machine learning won’t try to leverage it to produce ever more binge-able content?
From one perspective, the Infinite Jest comparison works — and if it still doesn’t make sense to you, imagine a generative AI stream after 20 years of machine learning, calibrated to make its content more addictive, weaponized by a hostile power, perhaps with a viral app that appeals to kids (basically take TikTok and add 20 years). But from another perspective, the potential here just sounds really cool. In September, Solana picked up on the amazing the implications of generative AI after Dall-E went viral —
Imagine an unlimited supply of your favorite TV show. If a sufficiently advanced model trained on scripts and video is also trained on your viewing history, we may see, in our lifetime, a personalized 6th, 7th, 27th season of Stranger Things — tailored specifically to viewer tastes — 30 years after the show’s final episode. In a world of A.I., the future is personalized. Diamond Age status. The Lady’s Illustrated Primer is coming.
And a month later,convincingly sketched out the ‘holy shit that sounds awesome’ (though I'm not sure he feels that way) scenario in a Substack post:
[I]magine that Disney and Sony have collaborated to produce a family of Spider-Verse models trained on every piece of Spider-Man content since the character’s first appearance in a 1962 issue of Amazing Fantasy #15. Imagine that in the year 2025, all of these models are stitched together by a very small team of humans (less than ten) to produce a Disney+ streaming channel called Spider-Verse 2025...
Viewers can then tune into the Spider-Verse 2025 channel on Disney+ at any given moment of the day and see brand new, never-before-seen Spider-Man shows that are… [s]hockingly good, as in, way better by any conceivable metric than the Saturday morning cartoon fare we Gen-Xers grew up with…
If you’re a Spider-Verse 2025 fan and you missed a few hours of streaming because you had to take care of some bodily function like sleeping or eating, you can always get caught up by reading a custom-generated summary of events that begins at whatever point in the story you last paused the stream and ends at the present moment. That summary could be pure text, or it could be a multi-panel comic book drawn in the style of Jack Kirby — it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.
Hartle himself has been explicit about wanting to bring better, more entertaining, endlessly-generated content into the world. He told Vice that Mismatch Media’s “goal with the next iterations or next shows that we release [are shows that are] like Netflix-level quality.”
The technical infrastructure is basically here: people are already re-creating celebrity voices using AI, and a recent Netflix anime series uses AI-generated background art. But the question, I think, is not what independent creators will be able to do with these technologies, but what the corporate entertainment studios, armed with an unlimited supply of shareholder dollars, are poised to do with it once they’ve fully adopted it. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be wild ride.