New AI Tech Gives Twitch Streamers Constant, Creepy Eye Contact

Nvidia’s come up with new AI-powered tech that swaps out your real eyes for digital ones that will never stop looking at your webcam. It’s very creepy, and one more sign of how unnatural you have to act online to become a popular streamer in 2023.

That’s just how it is: To succeed in the world of livestreaming, you need to be “on” all the time, always “engaged,” and never taking too many breaks for fear of shrinking your potentially fickle audience. It can quickly lead to burnout. Time and time again we’ve seen big, medium, and small streamers lose their passion for playing games online, leading to extended breaks, panic attacks, and more. But what if an AI-powered tool could help you fake some of that oh-so-important engagement? Enter Nvidia’s latest update to its Broadcast software.

This suite of tools is meant to help you look and sound better as you stream, with features like background removal and keyboard noise suppression. As of this new version you can, with the push of a button, now apply fake, AI-powered eyeballs to your real human face. And these new eyes will stare directly at the camera at all times, letting you never stop “engaging” with your audience even as you read your chat or look around at other things in your room. It looks wild, and very creepy!

Some have suggested that this tech could help people with autism who struggle to keep eye contact during meetings and livestreams. And while I respect that use case, I do question if this is the path we want to go down. I don’t think constant eye contact—especially creepy, direct staring eye contact like this—is something we all need or should want. I certainly don’t think pasting creepy AI eyes on everyone is a good thing. And as pointed out by one tweet, this kind of static, dead stare is not how people actually look when talking to large groups. Looking away or toward other people and cameras is natural, and can be useful and even important.

Online reactions to this new tech have included people freaking out over how creepy and weird it looks and pointing out how unnatural it feels. Even so, you can also find a lot more positive responses to the above tweet and other online examples of this strange new AI gizmo: people excited about how it will help their YouTube videos or livestreams on Twitch, and happy they can read chat or look away from the stream, while their audience is tricked into thinking they are still “engaged” with them. To me that just seems like a really unhealthy (and unsustainable) mindset that will eventually lead to more burnout that AI-powered tech can’t fix, treat, or prevent.

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