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When you find out you have a hot dog: Why AI-generated memes make more sense than those produced by MRAs

TFW you’ve just posted an incomprehensible MRA meme

By David Futrelle

You may have noticed a strange explosion of highly surreal memes hitting your Twitter home page of late. Blame the Artificial Intelligence-powered meme generator that you can find here, which will happily generate as many weird and baffling memes as you could ever want.

Now, the meme generator is a fairly basic thing, in principle: it takes in hundreds (thousands?) of human-generated memes in a variety of formats before pooping out something it doesn’t understand, but that we humans might.

Given that the AI-meme-generator literally doesn’t know what it’s saying, most of the memes it puts out tend to be a bit puzzling:

And sometimes it doesn’t seem to understand the meme format at all:

But alongside the surreal memes, the AI-meme-generator somehow manages to spit out others that make perfect (or at least only slightly imperfect) sense. I’ve been fiddling around with it for awhile and have been surprised and intrigued by these memes, which seem very much like the memes an actual human might produce on their own.

Indeed, these memes make a lot more sense than many if not most of the Men’s Rights memes I’ve run across (and written about) over the years — despite the fact that the MRA memes were generated by actual human beings who, at least in theory, should know what they’re saying.

Let’s look at examples from both genres — contrasting some of my, er, favorite MRA memes with memes the AI-meme-generator made for me.

Let’s start with this authentic MRA meme:

Apparently the thought process behind this, er, hilarity is: “Women are stupid! And rape is funny! Sharks!”

This AI-generated meme makes a lot more sense:

I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a nice hot dog once in a while?

Here’s an MRA meme taking aim at women in the military:

Contrast that with this cheerful and wholesome AI-generated meme:

Again, the AI hits the nail on the head. Everyone loves to see people talking about their cool stuff.

Here’s a dark and bewildering MRA meme:

I suppose the message here is supposed to be “even if she says she’s not a feminist, she might secretly be one, and falsely accuse you of rape.” But I’m not sure anyone not steeped in MRA-talk could discern that.

Also, why is “radical/white” in ironic quotes?

By contrast, this next AI-generated meme, while admittedly rude and perhaps a bit sexist, is as clear as a (school) bell.

This MRA meme may leave you scratching at your head as you try to puzzle out its strange “logic.”

This AI meme, by contrast, makes so much sense it hurts.

In the world we live in today, who has the patience to wait until you get home to get sloshed?

So why are MRA memes so illogical and incomprehensible? Part of the problem is that reality is not on their side, and so many of their memes only make sense if you’re already living in the imaginary world of the Men’s Rights movement, where black is white and mean, bitchy women rule over all. I know enough about this world from the many years I’ve spent doing this blog that I can usually make some sort of sense of most of their memes, but I still struggle with some of them. It doesn’t help much that many MRAs are bitter bastards choking on their own aggrieved entitlement; their attempts at jokes are undercut by their meanness and their barely developed sense of humor.

The AI may not have a sense of humor, but it’s also unencumbered by all this baggage, so when it pops out with something that’s funny, it’s genuinely funny.

Congratulations, MRA; it’s official now: You’ve failed the Turing test.

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TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
2 years ago

@MansVoice

For someone who projects others as being “MindKilled” (nonsense, bad faith rhetoric that it is); you seem willfully and intentionally incapable of being able to exercise anything resembling actual, intellectually honest, or good faith logic and intentionally sidestepping and ignoring the questions others have asked, especially in regards to Naglfar’s question on how this dubious, falsely asserted thesis of yours about so called “looksmatching” even is supposedly supposed to work when applied to non-straight and non-cis people.

You ever going to actually even try addressing that point; even if it’s with nonsense assertions without any factual backing? At least it will be engaging in better discourse than the anemic attempts your engaging in.

Because you still haven’t addressed or explained that little detail. All you have waffled on about is making eronnious, devoid of reality false assertions not based on any logical or scientifically sound fact, red herring arguments and projective insults out the game in bad faith, which resulted in everyone treating you as the intellectually dishonest bad faith, pseudorational actor you present yourself as.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ jenora

this is the same person who wrote the ‘Last War in Albion’ I mentioned before about Alan Moore vs. Grant Morrison.

I really enjoyed that; so thank you ever so much for the heads up.

If the writing and arguments are of the same standard and character then her comments will probably be well worth a read.

In unrelated matters, was thinking of you the other night.

Was chatting about the Fermi paradox. Got onto the 21cm line. So, as you will know, theory is this is such an obvious frequency for communications aliens must inevitably use it. So a lot of SETI totally dedicated to listening on this band. And it’s such an important frequency in terms of SETI that every government in the world has agreed not to transmit on it.

But what if all the aliens have had the same idea?

Every civilisation in the universe might be intensely monitoring that wavelength; but all too considerate to use it themselves. Like taking the last After Eight mint. So we just hear silence.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

@Jenora Feuer:

Not to mention that any sort of environment which ostensibly fosters “rational discussion” needs to self-monitor and self-police for participant selection bias, otherwise you end up with it being dominated by “pure reason” intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. Pure reason always falls apart with real-world testing and application, because humans aren’t generally reasonable in their beliefs and actions, and individuals are also unreasonable in different ways… and also physics does not care about or conform to your elegantly crafted definitional constructs, if you’re going to go there.

And that’s when it doesn’t later get dominated by philosophical-minded sociopaths looking for affirmation that, yes, they are superior to the “mindless sheep”, and therefore their exploitation and abuse of others is morally justified. At least that doesn’t always happen.

LessWrong entirely lacked that kind of policing and monitoring back when I explored that site, and I have no reason to believe it’s gotten any better since.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Snowberry
I’d also say that the majority of people who talk the most about rationality and logic tend to be the least rational and logical. For example, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and their legions of stans. So a site that claims to be the epicenter of rationality is likely to attract such types.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw:

Any solution to the Fermi Paradox involving the behavior of differing alien civilizations suffers from the same flaw – until we have a good reason to believe otherwise, it’s unrealistic to expect that every civilization will do the same things for the same reasons. Even within a particular civilization, you’re going to get different cultures who disagree with each other on the “right” way to do things. Either there isn’t a single specific solution, with different reasons being true in different cases, or there’s some specific convergence point which all civilizations eventually reach which we can only guess at, or whatever it is happens to be true only by sheer unlikely coincidence, or whatever it is doesn’t involve the behavior of alien civilizations at all.

One of the more unconventional potential solutions which don’t involve alien behavior is known as the “youngness paradox”. If you presume that exponentially more universes are coming into existence at any particular moment, and not necessarily in the “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics sense (I first encountered it in the context of a constantly expanding, literally infinite, essentially empty universe where big bangs are always happening, but so far physically removed from each other that they might as well not exist)… then at any particular moment, there will exist infinitely more ‘first civilizations’ than later ones. So in that scenario, it would be pretty astounding if we weren’t the first ones in our universe, even though, short of being the only ones ever, somebody and probably a whole lot of somebodies eventually has to not be first.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ snowberry

Indeed. The solution I find most intriguing, and scary, is the ‘quiet forest’ one. I’m sure you’re familiar. We know rainforests are full of life; but it’s rare for a species to show themselves. So what does that tell us about the environment?

As for being first; I’m coming more and more not just to ‘rare earth hypothesis’ but even ‘rare galaxy’. So many things have to be in place for intelligence to arise (took long enough here); and we appear to be in the one spot that could happen.

I accept that’s based on a sample size of, er, one.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

Indeed. The solution I find most intriguing, and scary, is the ‘quiet forest’ one. I’m sure you’re familiar. We know rainforests are full of life; but it’s rare for a species to show themselves. So what does that tell us about the environment?

Or, in XKCD form:
comment image

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@Alan

But it’s great when people evade questions and prevaricate. The cases try themselves.

Jurisprudence took a huge leap forward when Did Not v. Did Too finally got overturned by Rubber v. Glue.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

The thing about the Fermi Paradox is that it assumes that the sort of intelligence that can and will develop the type and level of technology necessary to be detectable from thousands of light years away is common enough that there’s going to be more than one in a galaxy our size, and I’m not convinced that’s a reasonable assumption, given the caloric and developmental costs that our own species’ intelligence requires. And given the scale of our universe, any species farther away than our local cluster might as well not exist in terms of our ability to reasonably detect them…and if they’re close to our level of technology, that range gets cut to a few thousand light years at best.

I really, really wish SETI had a hope in hell of being successful, but sadly, I don’t think it’s anything but an aspirational project.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ buttercup

As the great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “I know you are, but what am I?”

Also, love that xkcd

Arthur Clarke once said “The scariest thing about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it it indifferent”. Let’s hope he wasn’t being overly optimistic.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

@I’ve heard it as “Dark Forest” and not “Quiet Forest”, but yeah.

If there existed advanced civilizations despite a galaxy full of berserkers, whether intentionally created or evolved from malfunctioning Von Neumanns, don’t you think someone would exterminate them eventually though? Or at least keep them under control enough that they’re no longer a major threat. I’m pretty sure that some humans would at least try.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ gaebolga

Yup. And how long would a civilisation use radio or even laser comms?

It might be like looking out for beacons or semaphore in a culture of mobile phones.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
2 years ago

The more we search for exoplanets, the more we discover. Exoplanets are everywhere and they come in all types. To think that we are the only watery planet with oxygen-producing life in our galaxy is hubris. Tons of star systems out there have planets; it almost seems as though planets develop as a byproduct of star formation nearly 100% of the time. Most of these planets will be inhospitable to life, but even if only 1% of the time, or even 0.01% of the time a planet could develop life, that is a shit ton of planets.

And if a planet can develop life, it probably will. Life popped up on Earth almost immediately after the oceans cooled. There’s no reason to think that Earth was magically unique. For me, the real question is whether we are just the earliest on the local scene. The galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and we can only see about 60% of it. There could be a thriving interstellar civilization on the opposite side where we can’t see it, and we’d never know. It would take 100,000 years for EM transmissions to get here, except they never would because the galactic core is in the way.

It’s also notable that our solar system is currently passing through a cloud in space where there seems to be nothing much. It’s possible that this has formed a semi-unique intragalactic environment conducive to the formation of intelligent life, as there is a reduced risk of stray bodies flying through our local space and disturbing our Oort cloud and Kuiper belt. Once we leave the cloud? Who knows what might happen. Maybe our days are more numbered than we think.

Dalillama
Dalillama
2 years ago

@Gaebolga

The thing about the Fermi Paradox is that it assumes that the sort of intelligence that can and will develop the type and level of technology necessary to be detectable from thousands of light years away is common enough that there’s going to be more than one in a galaxy our size, and I’m not convinced that’s a reasonable assumption,

Particularly given that that isn’t something we could do at any time in the foreseeable future, if ever. Space is very very big, and punching a message through that amount of dust and cosmic radiation is a nontrivial problem. Leaving aside the raw technological problems, there’s the social issues: communication across interstellar distances requires an advanced, high-tech polity/society that persists for millenia and keeps the same goals the whole time. Again, this is something humans have never done and there’s no reason to believe that it’s even theoretically possible for us to do so. Being as we’re zero for zero on that capability, any hypothesis premised on the idea that it’s inevitable that tool using species should do is, bluntly, garbage.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

Another theory that springs to mind is one I’ve heard under a variety of names posing that others know we’re here and are purposely avoiding us (or at least purposely keeping out of sight).

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

The solution I find most intriguing, and scary, is the ‘quiet forest’ one. I’m sure you’re familiar. We know rainforests are full of life; but it’s rare for a species to show themselves. So what does that tell us about the environment?

There’s one species that should be unafraid to show itself in that scenario, though, and that is the apex predator. So where are they? Where are their comm signals, their von Neumann probes, their works of astroengineering?

Of course, other explanations remain possible:

* Tool-using intelligence that builds either powerful transmitters or reproducing probes is simply very rare to begin with.

* Most such civilizations destroy themselves through ecological mismanagement before getting powerful enough to spread beyond their home system or transmit much. (Trump and climate change and the insect die-off and so forth lend credence to this hypothesis, sadly.)

* Most such civilizations turn inward once they develop advanced enough VR, mind-uploading, or etc. and lose interest in the outside world; so they turtle silently in their home systems running off solar energy until forced to act by the star’s main-sequence lifetime running out. And that takes a very, very long time …

* Civilizational senescence: you get smart enough to solve all your problems, and then your problem-solving abilities start to atrophy. Once you can just push a button and ask for “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” and the machines self-repair who needs to learn engineering anymore … or cooking, for that matter? So you get something like the Eloi with robots as the Morlocks. Incurious hedonists don’t explore or signal, and if they’re good at keeping birthrates at replacement rates and at recycling, once again they might just sit around for several billion years before anything might motivate them to do otherwise. And by then they’ve forgotten how anyway.

* There is something that is simple and obvious to anyone advanced enough to throw more than a terawatt or two into a single project, and that is clearly superior to EM radiation as a means of interstellar-range communication.

* There is something that is simple and obvious to anyone advanced enough to build a working generation ship and populate it with a long-term-stable society, and that is clearly superior to space travel as a means to explore, obtain resources, and expand — e.g., a far less empty cosmos on an adjacent brane that you can tunnel through to, compared to which where we live is a desert. But new intelligence tends to arise here and not there, because there is largely already colonized whereas here is subject to island biogeography phenomena that promote new and unique species arising. So we not being contacted is like some Pacific islanders not being contacted until all the way into the 20th century, even with continents over the horizon that were positively teeming with civilizations and had been for millennia.

* They’re quiet, but not entirely silent: very slow, very fast, very faint … and to us they seem to be just noise. The signal is outside of the formats we’ve been looking for. Maybe they’re too weird for us to recognize, at least at first.

* A combination of several of these. E.g., if someone figures out how to make a working generation ship with a stable enough internal society to make it to another, resource-rich star system to colonize, they’re capable of going ZPG and making themselves very comfortable at home, and end up succumbing to one or another Eloi/lotus-eater type fate without sending out any generation ships; the rest mostly collapse in ecological mismanagement before sending any, and of those who do launch ships before collapsing, their ships fail for the same reasons.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

@Naglfar

I believe Lister described it thusly:

“What if we’re like a parasite? What if all the other planets are like ‘Ew, stay away from Earth, it’s got humans on it!”

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

Quarantine hypotheses require that there be a single dominant civilization in our region of space, and that it has enough power to prevent invasions and even to muffle signals crossing their space, or else its scope is larger than the range our SETI efforts can reliably receive from. In an extreme case, we aren’t even really in space as we know it: everything beyond our solar system is a projection or illusion (or they have us in a simulation, alone in a box).

As for the reasons why, it’s not hard to think of many things.

* We’re not ready and have to develop more: we still have war. Or capitalism. Or have not become a Borg-like hive mind yet. Etc. When we do, their hive mind (or whatever) will offer us the option to fuse with them (or whatever).

* Imprisonment. Our ancestors did something bad. (But there’s no evidence of pre-modern contact, modulo stories of otherworldly beings or strange lights in the sky. No physical trace of such a contact, such as a spent alien rocket stage or so much as a left behind alien candy wrapper, have turned up.)

* We’re an experiment, or at least an object of study, and they want to observe without interfering.

* We’re a national park. One that happened to produce a feral de novo intelligent species. No alien campers every summer because we’re a part of the park declared off-limits for one reason or another.

(Remember a decade or two back when that Mars probe failed, and there was a cartoon somewhere showing it being captured by an alien ship and the aliens saying something like “the primates are throwing things out of their enclosure again”?)

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
2 years ago

(Remember a decade or two back when that Mars probe failed, and there was a cartoon somewhere showing it being captured by an alien ship and the aliens saying something like “the primates are throwing things out of their enclosure again”?)

I remember the Decepticons destroying that probe.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ surplus

the apex predator. So where are they?

To extend your analogy, perhaps any apex predators are incredibly territorial. So there might only be a single one (or species) in the local cluster or even beyond. After all, a lot of our predators have very wide ranges.

And maybe they’re just having a nap after feeding.

There’s no reason they should operate on the same timescales as us. Taking a few millennia out after ingesting the other civilisations may be like us snoozing off Sunday dinner?

Or maybe they’ve moved on to farming? We might just not be ready for harvesting yet. And it’s not like our farmers try to communicate with their crops.

Another Fermi answer I like is Aestivation Hypothesis. Mainly because I learned a new word. I like the idea though of just shutting down until the universe is more energy efficient and there’s more to see.

Although I’d like to wake up in about 600M years to see the last eclipse. I find that really moving and humbling for some reason. But then I’d go back to bed.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

I personally find the concept of “deep time” very awe inspiring. There is a good overview on Crash Course Astronomy, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDF-N3A60DE

tl;dr: the universe is doomed, but maybe not

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ POM

I personally find the concept of “deep time” very awe inspiring

Me too; even if it can get a bit ‘total perspective vortex’. I am often to be found though just staring into the night sky for hours at a time.

We’re lucky here; we have great dark skies. I especially like going to stone circles and similar at night. I know that’s a bit hippy; but they do tend be in nice spots for star gazing. That might not be accidental of course.

I liked that video. Like Brian Cox but without the padding.

I’m looking forward to the degenerate era. I think I’ll fit in.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

As long as everyone is now just throwing out whatever, I’ll throw out a not-entirely-serious idea I came up with awhile ago. I call it the “Death God” scenario. It’s just a tweak on the one where everyone just wipes themselves out, which probably isn’t realistic – even if there are some common very common paths/traits, you can’t expect all civilizations to be the same – but it adds in elements of the “berserker/predator aliens” from the Quiet/Dark Forest scenario, plus the “this is the dumbest possible timeline” meme as well.

See, one of the first civilizations produced a being which, for inscrutable ethical and aesthetic reasons, decided find to uplift all moderately sapient beings into full sapience, and then over a few million years subtly guide them into a final orgy of self-destruction. I mean, it’s so beautiful and glorious, why would the resulting beings not be happy to participate? So probes are sent out all over the galaxy to do just that, and send back a record so it can witness each and every one.

As for Earth, the probe is malfunctioning or humans went off the rails or something, and the final blossoming failed to happen in the 1960s like it was supposed to, but it’s still trying… Maybe we have a chance, or maybe at some point it will just give up and erase us as failures.

I know, too contrived to be anything other than fiction, just a bit of exploration of one way the generally unrealistic doomsday solution might work.

Moon Custafer
2 years ago

@Naglfar, @Gaebolga:

Or the quip about how we’ve weirded out the aliens by sending them unsolicited nudes, a mix tape, and directions to our house.

@Surplus:

Remember a decade or two back when that Mars probe failed, and there was a cartoon somewhere showing it being captured by an alien ship and the aliens saying something like “the primates are throwing things out of their enclosure again”?

Was that the Beagle II? I recall drawing a cartoon of Snoopy dressed as the WWI Flying Ace shaking his fist and yelling “Curse you, Red Planet!”

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

When I was a wee bit, the original Cosmos series with Carl Sagan came out on PBS, and I was entranced. My parents were supportive types, so they decided to try to encourage me, and get me into some kind of after-school astronomy club, but couldn’t find one. The closest they could manage was an adult education course at the local university, and they wouldn’t allow a 7-year-old in without adult accompaniment.

My parents flipped a coin and my dad lost the toss, and had to take me. LOL

My dad and I were super into astronomy for the longest time. My dad even bought a huge-ass reflector scope – I can’t remember how wide the aperture was, maybe 24 inches? It was too big for me to move and he had to do it. He bought us a star atlas and a subscription to Sky and Telescope. We joined a telescope club and went to star parties. I sometimes made a night out of going out with the telescope and trying to find deep-sky objects.

Carl Sagan once said, We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. I believe that.

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