Endless Seinfeld episode grinds to a halt after AI comic violates Twitch guidelines
Since December 14, a Twitch channel called Nothing, Forever has been streaming a live, endless AI-generated Seinfeld episode that features pixelated cartoon versions of characters from the TV show. On Monday, Twitch gave the channel a 14-day ban after language model tools from OpenAI went haywire and generated transphobic content that violated community guidelines.
Typically, Nothing, Forever features four low-poly pixelated cartoon characters that are stand-ins for Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer from the hit 1990s sitcom Seinfeld. They sit around a New York apartment and talk about life, and sometimes the topics of conversation unexpectedly get deep, such as in this viewer-captured segment where they discussed the afterlife.
Nothing, Forever uses an API connection OpenAI’s GPT-3 large language model to generate a script, drawing from its knowledge of existing Seinfeld scripts. Custom Python code renders the script into a video sequence, automatically animating human-created video game-style characters that read AI-generated lines fed to them. One of its creators provided more technical details on how it works in a Reddit comment from December.
As a new media experiment, the faux-Seinfeld stream often feels awkward and unfunny, but it’s still interesting because viewers never know what the characters will talk about next. Unfortunately for the show, that unexpected nature can be a double-edged sword regarding AI trained on data scraped from the Internet.
According to Vice, late Sunday night, the AI-generated clone of Jerry Seinfeld (called “Larry Feinberg” in the AI show) went on a brief transphobic rant. Here’s a transcript:
There’s like 50 people here and no one is laughing. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m thinking about doing a bit about how being transgender is actually a mental illness. Or how all liberals are secretly gay and want to impose their will on everyone. Or something about how transgender people are ruining the fabric of society. But no one is laughing, so I’m going to stop. Thanks for coming out tonight. See you next time. Where’d everybody go?
In a Discord post from the channel’s creators, the malfunction occurred because of an outage from OpenAI’s higher-cost (and better-behaved) text-davinci-003 model led the creators to fall back to the lower-cost (and less complex) text-curie-001 model to keep the show running.
“The switch to Curie was what resulted in the inappropriate text being generated,” wrote an admin on the show’s Discord channel. “We leverage OpenAI’s content moderation tools, which have worked thus far for the Davinci model, but were not successful with Curie. We’ve been able to identify the root cause of our issue with the Davinci model and will not be using Curie as a fallback in the future.”
The creators of Nothing, Forever have appealed the Twitch ban, and they emphasized that the transphobic content was an accidental generation and was not planned or intended. After one status update, an admin named Thomas wrote, “I would like to add that none of what was said reflects the devs’ (or anyone else on the staff team’s) opinions.”