2 min read

AI-Powered Reality TV

Last week, Character.ai was the latest AI startup to become a unicorn (valued at $1B) after getting around $200M investment led by a16z. The platform features a variety of chatbots for specific focuses, such as writing content, playing a game, practicing languages, or talking with Elon Musk. However, their most-used chatbots are modeled after celebrities and famous (fictional) characters. These are the models that have gained the most attention.

Replicating celebrities and famous people in AI models (whether just voices or visuals too) has reignited the deepfake fears. I see a new story daily about deepfake awareness because election cycles are soon to begin again. (This deepfake of Bill Gates was a good one.)

On the flip side, the idea of open-sourced celebrity digital twins that we can program is certainly a strange one. Having consumer-ready products of our fave celeb voices and videos is a blue-sky vision for studios and production companies. But otherwise, it just makes for great reality TV for nerds.

WTF? Reality TV for Nerds

Honestly, the number one use case for AI models made on celebrities is for Internet trolls and nerds to have a good laugh. I’ve had the theory for a while, but this tweet confirmed it for me:

As I dug into it more, I realized there’s an entire live show modeled on making nonsensical videos with AI-powered deepfake celebrities. I will caution you that it’s very much NSFW, so only click if you don’t mind verbal profanity. Nonetheless, here’s one of the episodes:

This is reality TV for nerds. There’s no other way to put it. Athene has built an entire show around an AI model and injected it with classic Internet humor. He’s got a hit show on his hands and created a model we’re going to see countless streamers bite and build a following around.

There’s never been a better time to be a nerd. I wish I were 12 years old again just so I had all day to tinker with AI. What we’re witnessing is the next evolution of the “meme kid.” Instead of making new memes, they’ll generate new moments with AI.