(Illustration courtesy of John Cuneo)


The Infinite Conversation is an AI-generated, neverending conversation between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek. Upon entering the website, the visitor is taken to a random point in the dialogue. New segments of the conversation are automatically added at various times and they can be generated at a faster speed than what it takes to listen to them. In theory, the conversation can continue until the end of time.


Built with freely available tools, this work was born out of a simple epiphany: that in 2022, voice cloning tools were becoming both too good and too easy to use. And that the world was (and will remain for a long time) utterly unprepared to deal with the potentially heinous consequences.


I am not proud of having created this without asking consent from Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek, but I think that was an important part of proving the point: unscrupulous players might have even fewer moral qualms while unleashing these powers upon far more nefarious uses. I wish Žižek took the jest in higher spirits than he did. But I have reasons to believe that at least Herzog approached it more philosophically. Then again, I also learned that Herzog does not hold Žižek very dear, so I’m sorry to have accidentally created a version of hell for his AI-avatar.


As of June 2023, over a million minutes of the Infinite Conversation have been listened to by many hundreds of thousands of people around the world, hopefully contributing to spark a conversation that at the very least, will raise awareness about Deepfakes. Read more about this project on Scientific American, Tank Magazine and Literary Hub.

You shall know a word by the company it keeps
(John Rupert Firth)

The premise of The Adventures Di Pinocchio is simple: what if we could learn a new language simply by reading a book? What if we could do that without realizing it?


We’re all familiar with the notion of learning a new word after finding it in a well-known context. By seeing an unknown term surrounded by words we already know, we can pinpoint the general meaning of the new one simply by inference. As the new word is seen in more frequent and varied ways, its meaning can be refocused and we become capable of understanding and using it correctly. Now imagine doing that with words in a language you do not know. And if it’s true that to have another language is to possess a second soul, wouldn’t it be great to learn one while enjoying a novel?


The Adventures Di Pinocchio is two books in one: the English translation of Pinocchio is gradually mixed with the original Italian version. In the first few pages, an Italian word pops up here and there, made obvious by its italic type. Gradually more and more words are added to the mix. By the first quarter of the book, we see the first few, very short Italian sentences. By the middle of the novel, half of the words are in English, half in Italian. Eventually, the book ends in its original form, in glorious 19th century Italian.


Some parallelisms came to my mind while I was putting together this book. First and foremost: the journey. Pinocchio yearns to become a real boy, in the same way as any translation wants to be as close as possible to the original. Only by the end of the book you get to enjoy the prize of the real thing.


Second: the original Pinocchio is darker than any adaptation you might have seen as a cartoon or movie. Its roughness resonated with me as I witnessed the results of a “machine-mediated” linguistical metamorphosis: if translating is an arduous effort, gradually morphing sentences is bound to create even more friction. But when it does work, it is so much fun to read the ambiguous, demilitarized zone that is the bilingual sentence—the pleasure and pain of every parent of every bilingual child.


And lastly: the big lie. As Pinocchio struggles to keep his stories straight, so does The Adventures Di Pinocchio. Can you really learn Italian by reading this? Of course not. 160 pages are not nearly enough. But it’s a great start. For a more complete language transformation, I will focus on applying this same method to “In Search of Lost Time” (À la recherche du temps perdu, by Marcel Proust), a novel tallying a whopping 2,215 pages. Now that’ll be your chance to learn French!


Update January 2023


Google Play decided that my app is too old and unmaintained to allow people to run it on their modern devices. However, after testing on Android 13, it looks like the app still works for the most part. The irony is that one of the few places in the world where people use SMSes and where this app could be relevant, is also the country where the presence of an Android phone is still looked as some sort of contagious disease: the US of A.


At any rate, if you wish to install the app on your device, you can download the APK from here.


It also looks like Mr. Musk decided to make Twitter a less stable platform for bots and I decided to pull off the bot, rather than maintaining it. If you wish to see how it looked like in a very ancient past, the Wayback Machine is there for us.


Lastly: the offspring of Cutup is a LLM paper.


Update June 2016


Cutupbot is a modernized and revamped version of Cutup written for Twitter. It’s a simple bot that creates haiku using the style of any given profile on Twitter. To interact with Cutupbot, simply send a message on Twitter @cutupbot indicating which account you wish to plagiarize. For instance “@cutupbot could you write for me a haiku of @dalailama?”, or simply “@cutupbot @dalailama” if you feel imperative.


Usually results will be more interesting or convincing if the account selected has at least several hundred messages. If Cutup doesn’t find a certain amount of words, it will refuse to generate a haiku.


You can specify to generate five messages at the time adding on your message the hashtag #gimmefive. If the account you are plagiarizing uses the English language, you may try the optional hashtag #kigo. Looking for a kigo works well only on a few accounts and your mileage may vary. Options can be combined together. “@cutupbot @dalailama #gimmefive #kigo”




Cutup rearranges the words of the messages you receive and generates small composition of depthless wisdom and questionable hilarity. If you exchange a lot of SMSes with your buddies, this app is for you. The generated snippets of poetry try to follow as closely as possibly the haiku rules and will match the writing style and themes of your friends.


The app attempts to imitate two of the three haiku qualities: the “cutting” (kiru) and the 5-7-5 rule. The rule of kigo (seasonal reference) was implemented and later discarded in favor of a more desirable property, language independence. If your peers write to you SMSes in any latin-scripted language, you will probably be able to run Cutup. Very interesting haikus were generated in the following languages: english; portuguese; italian; spanish, french. I suspect that it wouldn’t work so well with German due to the larger average letter-count of the deutsche Sprache, but feel free to try it out for yourself.


In order to get the best results, use Cutup with the person you exchange the highest amount of interesting message. For this funny app I express my love and gratitude to: Paulo Patricio, Mark V. Shaney and Apophenia.