In this dark time when anyone can purchase a verification checkmark on Twitter, one man is pushing back on internet inauthenticity. Brian Moore built a box that, when plugged into a computer, will verify whether someone actually laughed out loud before letting them post “LOL.” It’s a small but mighty step in the fight to say what you mean and mean what you say. But it is also silly. If you don’t actually LOL, the program swaps in a different message. Instead of hyperbole, it inserts a more honest message like “that’s funny” or “ha.” If you have actually chortled audibly, it add a satisfying green check mark and a timestamp following the “LOL.”
In the TikTok video above, which we saw on The A.V. Club, Moore shows off the programming and machine learning steps involved. It sounds like the hardest part was training it to recognize what is and isn’t considered a laugh. Imagine just laughing and snorting at your computer over and over again for the sake of a good data set. This also brings up the question of what level of laughter constitutes laughing out loud. Does it just have to be audible? What if your laugh sounds like “ha?” Still, this is one of the few non-creepy uses of machine learning.
“LOL” is one of the longest-running internet shorthands. What’s next now that the floodgates are open for honest responses? Do we actually have to squeeze out a tear in order to use the “laughing so hard you cry” emoji? And does anyone actually roll on the floor laughing? Hopefully we don’t have to mean it when we type “brb” or “omw.” Lastly, for those people who use LOL to mean “lots of love,” is there a way to tell if they’re genuinely sending love or if they mean something more along the lines of “bless your heart?”
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.