After KEEP CALM and CARRY ON Ltd applied for a trademark, Solid Gold Bomb founder Michael Fowler decided to create a flood of parodies. He gathered up a list of words, threw them into a script and pressed ‘go’.
Fowler describes culling a list of ‘millions’ of generated phrases down to 700, and checking the phrases for graphical approximation to the original, apparently without noting the contents.
He claims to be surprised as the rest of us that an offensive combination ended up in the database. (In fact, several offensive combinations showed up, which is to be expected if you put words like ‘rape’ or ‘choke’ or ‘hit’ in your list of verbs.)
He suggests that the reason people got so upset was a lack of digital literacy. I suggest that the reason people got upset was that a company’s shoddy QA practices allowed a rape joke to go live.
Generative programs are force multipliers. Small initial decisions can have massive consequences. The greater your reach, the greater your responsibility to manage your output. When Facebook makes an error that affects 0.1% of users, it means 1 million people people got fucked up.”
‘We didn’t cause a rape joke to happen, we allowed a rape joke to happen,’ is not a compelling excuse. It betrays a lack of digital literacy.