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AI versions of Herzog and Žižek engage in endless conversation about philosophy


AI-generated versions of director Werner Herzog and philosopher Slavoj Žižek have a never-ending conversation with each other in a project meant to warn and inspire.

The literally named ‘Infinite Conversation’ is a project by computer scientist Giacomo Miceli, which sees Herzog and Žižek endlessly discuss the matters of art and philosophy.

In one of the passages, Žižek, in his boisterous voice, hails Herzog's 2006 film Rescue Dawn as "poetic in a very radical sense" and "not really" a Hollywood creation.

Herzog responds calmly by saying that Rescue Dawn is indeed "one of the most beautiful poems I [have] ever made with a camera," before adding that it is "a great compliment that you say I am the best poetry of materialism."

As made-up – and sometimes nonsensical – as it is mesmerizing, the never-ending conversation between Herzog and Žižek proves how accessible, cheap, and "superficially good" AI-generated content now is, according to Miceli.

When visitors open the project's website, they are taken to a random point in the dialogue. New conversation segments – which generate faster than it takes to listen to them – are added daily and should, in theory, last in perpetuity.

"This project aims to raise awareness about the ease of using tools for synthesizing a real voice. Right now, any motivated fool can do this with a laptop in their bedroom," Miceli said about the work on its website.

He said that the need for authoritative sources was increasingly important in people's changing relationship with online media, and the project sought to highlight issues like breach of trust and gullibility.

"Ultimately, I don't see this as a technical problem, but as a human one. We all share a duty to educate the coming generations about the new paradigm while focusing on forming compassionate individuals who would not misuse these awesome powers," Miceli said, describing himself as "an AI optimist."

Neither Herzog nor Žižek gave explicit consent to use their voices for the project, Miceli said, but noted he mostly relied on open-source tools available to anyone. While admitting it was "bad" to use someone else's voice and have them say things they did not, he considers the project his love letter to the two greats.

Other creative projects by Miceli include a polygonSelfie app that can convert any camera picture into a polygonal portrait and WikiBinge project that links any two Wikipedia subjects through smaller, less-represented encyclopedia articles.


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