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Finally, you can listen to an infinite conversation between Werner Herzog and Zlavoj  Žižek.

Jonny Diamond

November 3, 2022, 10:46am

I don’t know about you, but I’ve long desired the chance to hear Werner Herzog and Zlavoj  Žižek talk at each other in an infinite loop of gnomic locutions. As celebrity intellectual gadflies with unique speaking styles go, Herzog and Žižek truly have no equal (Fran Lebowitz maybe comes close), so it seems obvious that someone would program an AI-generated conversation using deepfake speech technology to simulate the two of them nattering on into and beyond the end of days. Right?

According to the site’s creator, Giacamo Miceli, in a warning worthy of Žižek himself:

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. This changes our relationship with the media we consume online and raises questions about the importance of authoritative sources, breach of trust and gullibility.

Will this technology lead to a massive proliferation of sub-optimal-quality content? Should we simply distrust anything we see online? As new tools are developed to help identify generated content, I recommend maintaining a skeptical stance, particularly when the source/channel of information doesn’t seem reliable and when the claims seem preposterous or outrageous.

And here’s an example of Herzog and Žižek’s infinite exchange, which does an eerily credible job in producing plausible dialogue between the two (lol at “false intellectual protocol”):

ZIZEK
I am so glad to hear that. I am so used to this kind of false intellectual protocol when you are invited for an interview: “How do you respond to this?” I would always say “That’s a good question, but I can’t answer it, because I don’t think the same way.” But here I am really happy. Because you know, I have this very strong melancholic side; I always worry that I do not reach the audience that I talk to myself and the audience is bored.

But to have an intellectual rapport with someone like yourself makes me extremely happy. And I also feel it in a sense with some friends, but they are of course not philosophers. So, yes, we are on the same wavelength. And if there is something, maybe, sad and melancholic in our philosophical sensibility this is quite clear.

HERZOG
I think, in a way, you are right. At least I have the feeling that some sort of way of thinking is shared. And what is also part of this is, we both had very similar experiences early on and they probably made us fundamentally suspicious. You very clearly, as a person who grew up under a Communist tyranny you must have had an early-on suspicion of all the media that were available to you there and you had to develop a strong skepticism towards the intellectual climate in which you found yourself.

And I, as a young person in Germany and Austria, during the sixties and early seventies very clearly had the feeling that we were all caught in a big big swamp, fully caught. And what was emanating from this swamp was nothing but lies, rampant lies and hypocrisy. This created a real suspicion that I probably would not want to relinquish even if I could and it’s become part of my way of thinking.

Though “new segments can be generated at a faster speed than what it takes to listen to them,” exchanges are uploaded daily to the site, and so long as there is electricity and internet, this conversation may well continue far past the existence of the human race. Here’s hoping.

The next obvious step will be enlisting Herzog and Žižek to read aloud their respective AI texts, at which Marina Abramović will burst into the room with a megaphone and the Seventh Seal of Hell.

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