It is indeed rather surprising to discovered that standup comedian George Carlin has a brand new comedy special that includes lots of new material. It is up on YouTube and completely free. As a Carlin fan, I really wanted to be both delighted and also excited, but I’m not.
Why is it surprising?
Well basically because George Carlin passed away in 2008.
Apparently being dead has not in any way slowed him down.
Before we get into the details, here it is below. To be clear, this is not old material, but instead is actually new …
What you actually have above is AI generated.
The index for the material, so that you can get a feel for what is in it, is …
- 0:00 Intro
- 1:22 God
- 3:30 Mass Shootings
- 8:31 Reality TV
- 12:46 Trump and the Election
- 16:23 The American Class System
- 20:11 Streaming Services
- 21:26 The Two Party System
- 25:16 Trans Americans
- 29:09 Social Media
- 31:03 Cops
- 35:57 Homelessness
- 37:59 Being Dead
- 39:45 AI
- 47:19 Language
- 51:05 Billionaires
- 52:52 Technology
- 54:32 Identity
- 56:01 Dying
One Key Observation
If you are familiar with Carlin, then what you will immediately get is that it is just not him.
What the AI has done is to ingest all his material and then used that to generate something that sounds like Carlin. The most immediate and obvious thing is that there is no human connection, the timing of the jokes feels wrong. Instead of bouncing off a real audience with his amazing timing we have a laugh track injected as the AI mechanically machine guns through the material with timed pauses for the artificial reactions.
We don’t get the Carlin visuals, his amazing facial expressions.
Not sure what I mean about the timing being way off?
OK, try this. Dip into the above, just for a few minutes. Once you get a feel for it, move on and sample the following which is the real deal and then you will grasp what I’m getting at …
The AI may indeed have attempted Carlin jokes, but it’s just not funny.
The real deal was, and still is, hilarious and very entertaining. There is a spark there that he had that is just missing from the AI.
I may of course be biased because I’m a Carlin fan and very familiar with him. Compare them both and drop a comment to let me know what you think?
Is this official?
Nope, not at all.
Kelly Carlin, his daughter, had a few words to say about all this on twitter spread over 3 tweets …
Apparently she is also mulling over the idea of legal action.
How does AI actually work?
It’s basically just pattern processing.
Start with a large chunk of data, which in this case could have been a decent sampling of Carlin. Processing algorithms then crunch that and can then in theory generate stuff that conforms to that pattern.
It is not in any way conscious and so it will result in stuff that adheres to the pattern of the data that has been fed in, but is not necessarily right.
Take for example a request to an image processing generative AI being asked to create a picture of Jesus flipping over the tables in the temple.
You and I most probably know the story, but the generative AI does not, and so you get a literal and totally crazy parsing of what was asked for …
What is also inevitable is that because AI is the latest hot buzzword, lots of things will now have an AI sticker applied to help sex it up, and while it may be true for some things, much of it will just be marketing hype.
This works because most people really don’t actually know how AI works, but hey, we live in a world where most people really do not know very much about how the things they actually use on a daily basis actually work. For example, we all stream Netflix, Disney+, or similar, but ask “How does that actually work, how can a source stream different parts of a film to literally millions of people concurrently, how is that actually possible?” and you will find that many people just don’t know.
Is Dudesy really an AI?
It might not be, I do have some doubts.
You could replicate it with a few good writers, a producer, and also some text to speech technology. Calling that AI would be a real stretch.
So what is the truth here, totally faked, or is there some AI in the mix?
I speculate that what might be true is the the guys behind this, Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, may indeed have used an AI that ingested lots of Carlin material and then churned out newish material that aligned with all the Carlin material it had been trained on. Then, and this is me just speculating, editors swoop in, cherry picked the bits that looked good, spliced that together, and deployed text to speech to deliver it
What we do not know is what precise AI model was used here, what algorithms were used, what training material was used, or who the company is behind the data crunching. When asked, the guidance is that due to a non-disclosure agreement they can’t say. That’s a nice way to duck that question with a non-answer, but might also be a great way to hide the fact that a great deal of this is incandescent vapours and translucent surfaces (Smoke and Mirrors), to hide the man behind the curtain.
The Real Deal
Why settle for a replica when you can enjoy the real deal, or as Carlin would most probably say if asked about an apparent replica pretending to be him, “It’s all Bullshit”.
So here he is once again.
Enjoy his observations on Religion …
Matthew Gault over on Vice really hates it – The George Carlin AI Standup Is Worse Than You Can Imagine – …
I’ll be honest. Fear is at the core of my disgust. The early battle against AI feels like it’s already over. The financial incentives are too great and the billionaires pushing AI will do anything to make a few extra bucks. The idea of stripping creative jobs from humans and ceding it to cheaper machines is just too lucrative an idea to pass on.
Thomas Germain writes on Gizmodo – Dumbest AI Stunt of the Week: A Robot George Carlin Standup Special …
“If I can’t be precious about his individual existence then I don’t know what we’re gonna do as a species,” Kelly Carlin said. “Of course, people get overly precious about art and things like that, but George Carlin did not write or perform this thing, so take his name off of it. It can be ‘inspired by,’ or ‘an homage to,’ or ‘Carlin-esque,’ or ‘in the style of.’ Call it something else, and then I dont give a shit. Standup is a lived human experience. Sure, a lot of people watch it on TV, but the standup comic has to leave their house and go to a theater to do the work, and it needs a live audience to react to it. An AI audience laughing at an AI thing is another art form.”