AI controlled Twitch V-Tuber has more followers than you

AI controlled Twitch V-Tuber has more followers than you

We’ve all probably at least heard of Twitch by now. For the uninitiated: imagine you had your own TV channel. What would you do on it? While Twitch really got its start as a place for gamers to stream the action, there are almost as many people playing guitars, building guitars, or just talking about guitars. And that’s just the example using guitars – if you can think of it, there’s probably someone doing it live on Twitch, within the terms of use, of course.

Along with the legions of people showing their faces and singing at the top of their lungs, you have people in partial disguise, and then you have v-tubes. It stands for virtual tubers and it just means that the person uses an anime avatar to convey themselves.

Now that you’re caught up, let’s digest the following item together: there’s a v-tube on Twitch that’s completely controlled by AI. Let me run it past you again: there is a person who has called [Vedal] who runs a Twitch channel. Instead of pouring himself into building Mad Max cars and fighting them in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or singing Joni Mitchell tunes, [Vedal] pulling the strings of an AI they created, which is represented by an animated character cleverly named Neuro-sama. Not only does Neuro-sama know how to play Minecraft and osu!, she speaks gamer and regularly communicates via chat in a snarky, 21st century way. And that’s really the key to Twitch success – interacting with chat in a meaningful way.

Born of the Internet

Neuro-sama was born in 2018 then [Vedal] created an AI and taught it to play osu. And that it can do it very well (video). But playing games is only half the story. The rest is the character and the talk.

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Neuro-sama didn’t talk or have an avatar back in 2018. But [Vedal] relaunched the project in December 2022 using a free trial avatar from Live 2D and an anime-like voice. She was made intelligent using a large language model (LLM), which is trained using text from the Internet. The problem, of course, is that the Internet is a miserable hive of scum and villainy, and thus the models often spout racist and sexist nonsense. So as you might imagine, it takes a team of moderators to keep both Neuro-sama and chat in line.

Weird with a beard, or Live and Let Broadcast?

Now I ask you, is this strange? When I first read this, I was turned off. I personally used to nervously craft buttons, without a face camera, to an audience of bots. Now I write songs and sing and play them with a 4K pointed at me and all my weird guitar faces. I’m real, and my knee-jerk reaction is that Neuro-sama is just so many levels of fake. Of course, there are plenty of fake people on Twitch who proudly show their faces too, believe me.

But not only do I feel like it’s an insensitive and harsh ceiling, I think it’s the wrong way to take Twitch completely, that is, personally. Twitch, like Reddit, is whatever the viewer shapes it to be to them. The point of the platform is that people are free to do whatever they want, within reason.

They say there is nothing new under the sun. And while a Twitch jazz musician might be wildly entertaining with broad crossover appeal, I guess “smart, Minecraft-playing AI” is just a sexier notion, perhaps simply because girl. It’s a bit like reading a person’s words versus taking in a piece of their visual art – the latter is simply easier to consume, even if it’s not always easy to stomach. Whatever I think, Neuro-sama has over 50,000 followers to my 200, so mob her and [Vedal].

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Like most streams, Neuro-sama will continue to grow and change as time goes on. [Vedal] plans for her to learn more games, and get the custom avatar she so richly deserves. Oddly enough, that would be the weird part – if she suddenly looked completely different.

[Ed note: Between writing this and it going live, Neuro-sama seems to have been taken offline, for violating Terms of Service.]

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