Feature

This innovative podcast sounds different to every listener

It's called Sheldon County

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is an AI-generated podcast.

"Sheldon County is a podcast that will never sound the same twice," said James Vincent at The Verge. A Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is developing an AI-generated podcast with completely unique characters and plotlines for each listener. To begin, the listener types in a random number, setting in motion a "Rube Goldberg machine of calculation that will create characters, relationships, jealousies, betrayals, and maybe even a murder or two."

These plot strands are converted into a narrative read aloud by a voice synthesizer, delivering a listening experience that is distinct every time. The creator, linguist turned programmer James Ryan, has already produced several episodes, to prove that the concept can work, and is now developing a website for the wider public. It's a glimpse at the future of entertainment, when "content is not just ubiquitous but unique."

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