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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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Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

I love Cosmos. It still gives me goosebumps remembering it from my youth.

I also like the re-release where Carl did a little update at the end of each episode; and how often he just had to say “Actually, we got all that right.”

And I feel somehow reassured that I came from stardust and a part(s) of me will continuously be recycled for trillions of years until I’m back being quantum foam or whatever.

Certainly puts things in perspective.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

I think the best part of Cosmos is the “ship of the imagination” and how delighted and wondrous Carl looks to be navigating it. Even though he’s obviously looking at a blank green screen or something, he’s clearly picturing something amazing and it shows on his face.

I miss Carl Sagan. The world really lost something special when he passed.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ moon custafer

2000AD (the comic) had a short story where some aliens find Voyager and, recognising that the senders looked just like them, use the info on the plaque to seek us out.

The last panel was huge spiky aliens saying “Hellooo; where is everyone?”, and getting all the humans stuck on their pointy bits.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

…If there were a predator civilization which figuratively “ate” other civilizations, it wouldn’t be for physical resources except as an incidental trivial bonus, because that would be the most hideously inefficient way of doing so ever. Intellectual resources? Maybe, if they were the Borg and were so constrained by design that there was no better way which they were capable of doing it. Cultural? That’s counterproductive, just discreetly observe us and copy our stuff, you morons. Some utterly alien sense of ethics, aesthetics, and/or spirituality? Possible (see my “Death God” scenario above for something similar) but they’d better pray they don’t run into a bigger fish which doesn’t take too kindly to that.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

“ship of the imagination”

Heh, I’m watching that now.

I totally get what you mean. I think Cosmos worked because Carl let us join him inside his head.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Snowberry

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.

This sounds like an even darker version of the Uplift Universe series, where species would uplift each other to sentience in exchange for 100,000 years of slavery.

Another theory is that aliens have reached a Kardashev Level 3 long before and are so powerful that we cannot distinguish them from the laws of physics and the universe itself. They could be all around us but we’d never know.

Or maybe they’ve been hiding in plain sight amongst us giving themselves car names and claiming to be “actors.”

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ snowberry

the most hideously inefficient way of doing so ever.

I’m not sure efficiency would be an issue; particularly in a post scarcity culture. It might even make Veblen Goods more desirable.

Look at us for example, We kill and throw away 99.9999% of a musk deer just for a few drops of scent that we can easily replicate chemically.

Aliens could have similar drives.

We could be some form of delicacy and I can easily imagine middle class aliens at dinner parties insisting that wild human tastes so much better than the synthetic stuff.

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

Unless there’s a way around speed-of-light limits, or stasis fields are possible without dragging around stellar-mass singularities, your “wild” human is going to go to “dead” over the next few centuries. I’m pretty sure “frozen” isn’t going to be considered fresh enough either. ?

Anyway, I’m not sure how that translates into devouring civilizations, it’s more like parasitism.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Snowberry
Well, they could travel here to eat wild human. Or set up a restaurant somewhere in the solar system, a much shorter distance from the source.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ snowberry

Oh gawd yeah. Tied to the front bonnet of a spaceship for the next few centuries. I guess they like us ‘gamey’!

I’d like to think that for aliens who did have the resources to get here, the only thing we could offer them is novelty. So we’d be worth keeping around; even if that was just a small pool of the most creative at whatever it is the aliens like us for.

But of course we can have no idea what sensibilities an alien might have. There may be such a gulf between us they don’t even recognise us as entities.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ naglfar

Yeah; and let the diners pick their own humans from Earth; like lobster tanks.

Earth might be a good place for a restaurant. Total eclipses and handy for Saturn’s rings. Quite the tourist trap.

Right, forget the art scam. We need some marketing materials and a really big radio telescope. Does anyone have Aricebo’s phone number?

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw
I’m thinking the moon is a better choice, close by and we could keep a small population there, and most people wouldn’t notice (unless they were picked for the lunar population).

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

I can see the reviews now.

Moon Restaurant

Food: 5/5
Views: 4/5
Atmosphere: 0/5

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

Ack, now you two have me thinking about rather morbid stuff. Like, if you could replace the blood with saline, destroy all the bacteria and viruses inside and out without damaging the tissues, keep the body constantly, perfectly chilled at very slightly above 0°C, inside a 100% radiation-shielded, 100% sterile chamber, you could keep someone reasonably “fresh”, perhaps even to the point of revivable, for a very long time. How long depends on how long it takes the internal radioactive decay from calcium and potassium isotopes to do significant damage (Carbon-14 takes significantly longer timescales), so not forever, but there’s that.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

“Roko’s Basilisk” is one of the stupidest, most irrational ideas ever conceived, which makes the fact that its proponents tend to be the sort who go on and on about how rational they are extremely funny.
Every single aspect of the idea is stupid, but my favorite (which does NOT make any more sense in context) is this:

Basilisk Guy: So the AI, long after you are dead, creates a digital duplicate of your mind, which is completely indistinguishable from you. It’s impossible to tell which is the original and which is the duplicate.

(Time travel is apparently involved, I guess? How else are they testing the long-dead original?)

Me: It’s VERY easy to tell. The original me is a long-dead human. The duplicate is a digital entity.

Basilisk Guy: No, it’s impossible to tell when you use text-based tests only, like the Turing Test.

Me: Ah, I see. It’s impossible to tell the difference so long as you avoid any and all tests that can actually tell the difference.

Here are two squeaky toys! They are completely identical, and it is impossible to tell which is which.

Well, so long as the person examining them is blind, and so cannot see that one is red and the other blue.

And deaf, so that they cannot hear that one goes SQUEAK and the other goes SQUAWK.

And has no sense of smell, so that they cannot smell that one smells like new rubber and one smells like dog saliva.

But so long as your test meets those criteria, they’re completely identical and impossible to tell apart.

Brilliant!

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ snowberry

replace the blood with saline, destroy all the bacteria and viruses inside and out without damaging the tissues, keep the body constantly, perfectly chilled at very slightly above 0°C, inside a 100% radiation-shielded, 100% sterile chamber

If you want the gig doing our restaurant’s food blog can you re-draft that to make it sound a bit more appetising?

Add something about celeriac; that should do it.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Snowberry
The replacing blood with saline is sort of similar to the process for kosher meat production (though human meat can’t be kosher).

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

@Allandrel

Yeah, and since the fact that the whole purpose of the “digital duplicate” is to convince you – the actual you here in the “past” – not to oppose the development of the Basilisk, you’d think they would have picked up on the fact that whether or not an outside observer can tell the difference between the original you and the duplicate you is completely fucking irrelevant.

You will know, because if your life isn’t an unending series of horrible tortures inflicted upon you by the most petty and delusional AI it’s possible to create, then congratulations, you don’t need to worry about the Basilisk.

I’ve never understood how anyone would be capable of taking that argument seriously.

contrapangloss
2 years ago

I have little of value to add, because it is my bedtime.

However, just thought I should let y’alls know that this space discussion is fascinating and I appreciate it greatly.

Even if you keep having all the fun conversations when I’m not online, gosh darn it!

MansVoice
MansVoice
2 years ago

Predictably, mentioning Less Wrong has led to a million invocations of “Roko’s basilisk” by people who are just looking for a reason to dump on the group.

Associating Less Wrong with the basilisk is akin to associating feminism with Valerie Solanas. It was an inconsequential micro-controversy that probably involved a dozen people.

To all of you who are so eager to shit on LW: have you read the Sequences? If not, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Check them out, and then come back and tell me Less Wrong is not a great intellectual movement.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Instead of giving us reading homework, why don’t you finally tell us how beauty is objectively measured so that we know how to properly looksmatch?

Viscaria
Viscaria
2 years ago

I have been with the same person for just about nine years. During that time, both of our bodies have changed. We’ve both gotten sick several times. Different birth control methods for me have changed my body hair, given me acne, taking my acne away. In the last year, I’ve been finding more and more grey hairs, while he’s as blond as ever, though his hairline is different than it used to be. He’s been bearded, clean-shaven, and very occasionally sported the ’90s action hero “I’m too rugged to shave every day but apparently not rugged enough to go more than a week without doing so” look that I really like for some reason.

Anyways I guess what I’m saying is do we need to get our looksmatch certificates renewed? If we’re no longer as close a match as we were when we first met, do we need to get a divorce? Do you know any good family law attorneys, MansVoice?

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
2 years ago

@MansVoice

Associating Less Wrong with the basilisk is akin to associating feminism with Valerie Solanas. It was an inconsequential micro-controversy that probably involved a dozen people.

This is a false equivalence because feminism is a movement that is formed and operates under the notion that women are people, have a right and a voice of value in society worth hearing that is often ignored (which I must say as a man myself; unlike your namesake which is pretty much taken as figurative gospel and as more worth and by default) and also the notions that reformation for equity in human society for men, women and all other configurations of being is a worthy cause working to; is frankly a reasonable position from anyone who isn’t some kind of raging bigot with a self aggrandizing agenda to push to maintain the harmful bs of the status quo.

LessWrong meanwhile has bits that are either ephemeral and not news at best to outright pseudorational nonsense at worst. Not to mention that your so vaunted “sequences” are a multi-essy of extensive and impenetrable jargon writen by laymen without any peer-review by actual researchers. Even being someone who grew up with a larger and more extensive vocabulary than normal and who enjoys the odd essay; find this so called work to be less comprehensible a contemporary person trying to parse out the vocabulary of a long dead proto-language. Not to mention I don’t see how a dense and incomprehensible, rhetoric peppered thesis that is allegedly supposed to be about exploring concepts and notions of Transhumanism is somehow applicable to the annals and fields of human emotional sciences or the study of sexual moors.

It seems you still have yet to explain how so called “LooksMatching” of your dubiouslly asstered thesis is supposed to work with LGBT people. Are you ever going to address that? Or are you just going to keep sidestepping and ignoring that detail?

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

“I’m too rugged to shave every day but apparently not rugged enough to go more than a week without doing so” look that I really like for some reason.

If I’m picturing what you’re describing it’s like Kurt Cobain or Aragorn, and if that’s the case, me too. Like, scruff, but not a full ass bushy beard?

I’m wondering what the looksmatch equivalent of that for women is? Is that if I dye my hair a brighter, prettier color, but let the roots grow out a few inches? Because I’m totally rocking that at the moment.

Viscaria
Viscaria
2 years ago

I might be thinking a little shorter than that, but definitely in the same ballpark, yeah :D. Apparently at least for my husband’s face it is super itchy and uncomfortable and only worth enduring if it’s on the way to a full beard, so rewatching LOTR is as close as I can get.

My lockdown hairstyle is called “I got a haircut in November and then planned one for March and then woops.” If I tie enough of it back, I can find my face again.

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