AI and the future of modern memes
Imagine scrolling through your social media for refreshment from your tedious daily routine some time in 2025 and all you can consume is content made by bots. This idea might not seem neurotic owing to the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and technologies that we are witnessing today. Rather it might be the inevitable future of memes that could work as an escape from the weary and repetitive trend of relatable humour. Human programmed bots could start and rule a whole new era of internet memes.
The very early phase of the aforementioned future has already started. Facebook pages like “News Bot 1926” claim to generate satirical headline memes artificially from keywords submitted by its followers. The appeal to such memes comes from absolute randomness and the already intriguing fact of bots creating memes. You might pull out your phone, check on those “memes” I’ve talked about and find them more weird than funny. If so, then you probably just don’t get it. The kind of humour that I’m talking about is derived from randomness and seldom depend on material logic. So, such memes will require time to become popular and go full on mainstream.
One might wonder how such meme bots would function. The News Bot 1926 is programmed to work in two phases. First, it obtains, analyses and stores data which are mainly keywords received from audience. Then the bot generates a headline with a suitable background by following an algorithm. After the content is generated, the bot will post it to social media.
This concept of AI-making memes has been researched and tested in 2018 by a couple of Stanford students. They taught computers to generate memes by showing them over 400,000 samples of internet memes and called the method “Dank Learning.” This initially seems like the kind of shift I’m looking forward to, but the end products of this project have disappointed me personally. The memes that those students artificially generated are way backdated and circle around the same model of cringe-worthy humour.
Those who use Discord may know about the hundreds of bots that are used to moderate or improve server functionalities. Creating a new wave of humour can also be commenced by those bots. By teaching keywords and replies, we can witness totally random, accidental and subtle comedy being generated. This is already being practiced by a few servers (for example, r/surrealmemes server) where bots talk to each other or reply to a command or text in a humorous way.
With the beginning of this new decade, we need to get out of the loophole of unoriginal jokes, relatable humour and rehashes. By using the blessings of progressive machine learning, we can look forward to a new generation of internet content.