One of the most important aspects of a living language is that it’s always evolving. Humans are never satisfied to just take a word and use it, instead we like to put our own spin on things. Some of us even become writers. “Lol” is a good example of an ensemble of letters with an ever-changing meaning, which only gets more convoluted when human sincerity as interpreted on the internet is added to the perceptive stew of understanding.
Most of us are fairly across the modern usage of the term lol. Gone are the days of lots of love, unless you’re a senior citizen making an unintentionally hilarious Facebook post, complete with cry laugh emoji. Firmly cemented in our current vernacular, lol translates to laughing out loud, which is almost always also a lie.
“Lol” I type unthinkingly after making absolutely no audible noise. I hit send, knowing my deception. Sure the meme I’m replying to was amusing, but in no way did I laugh out loud. “Right?” my meme sending friend responds. “So much!” I double-down. We all remain complicit.
Well one man won’t stand for it any longer. This man, nay hero, Brian Moore isn’t about to let anyone get away with this kind of obfuscation of truth. He’s made a LOL Verifier, a device that will check for an audible laugh before allowing you to send that duplicitous three letter acronym.
Moore shows off the project in his Twitter post (opens in new tab) where he uploaded video of the LOL Verifier. He explains it was first trained using Edge Impulse, a machine learning platform that’s free for developers. He recorded about three minutes or around 100 of his own laugh samples to train the algorithm to recognize a true-to-Brian laugh out loud.
With a lapel mic on, Moore plugs the LOL Verifier in as a bridge between his keyboard and PC. Anytime he types “lol” without laughing, the LOL Verifier’s light goes red, and automatically corrects his lie to something less deceptive, like “that’s funny”. A verified lol will get a green light, and also a tick and timestamp for the laugh recorded.
I made this thing called LOL Verifier: a device that only lets you type lol if you’ve actually laughed out loud pic.twitter.com/Gsc63yGEm0January 3, 2023
Of course, Moore isn’t going to stop fixing our lives one device at a time just yet. He teases what I’m sure is a very real LMAO verifier at the end of his video. Can’t wait to see the light go green on this one.
While a fun and silly invention, the LOL Verifier actually makes a fair amount of sense to me. In the world of online interactions, we have the very real Poe’s law. It states that without clearly knowing the intent of a message, parodies of extreme views can be perceived as sincere. And it’s true: I can’t count the times I’ve run into misunderstandings due to lack of inflection over text.
This is made more confusing by heavy use of hyperbole in modern speech (opens in new tab). In a world where quite literally everything is awesome, words are often shorn of meaning. We know from context and a general human understanding of each other what’s meant, but it can be very murky waters to navigate, especially online.
Given I have sent the message “actually lolled” a few times in my life, a little device to know if someone actually laughed doesn’t feel so out of line. I just don’t want to go through the crazy hell of training a machine on three whole minutes of my own absolutely cooked laughter.