MACHINES WILL LEARN THE HUMANS A COLOR AND ANIMALS
February 1, 2019 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Why not go gradually insane this weekend watching the computer generated "educational" videos of Raibow Animals, La La, Bi Bi TV, Toy Monster, Funny TV show, TOY Kids TV, totite tetito, Bobi Star TV, ABC Kids TV, and undoubtedly others. They should not be confused with TocToc Toys or Rainbow Art, god forbid, which are composed of actual footage of people doing random color-related things, with no computer rendering.

Here are links and descriptions of three sample videos, all from Raibow Animals.

The video "Los animales de granja y sus crías se transforman en animales salvajes" depicts, amidst a featureless blue void, what seems to be an endless bowling lane, its sides guarded by velvet ropes. Parading in perfect lockstep to music is a line of some kind of animal, a large example of the species followed by four or five smaller clones. The clones are each tinted a different color, of course. Animal noises accompany the procession, and a voice announces the kind of animal. This queue progresses down the bowling lane, the camera panning with it, until it runs directly into a fountain of water, the flow disappearing as it touches the polished wood. The moment the last of the animals has disappeared into the unexplained fluid, the music changes to some other faster, snazzier music. Immediately emerging from the other side of the fluid, as if the original animals transformed, is a completely different kind of animal, also followed by a line of smaller, colorful clones. The same voice announces its type. There is usually no obvious relationship between the two species. After the metamorphosis is complete, the process repeats, with two other kinds of animal.

In Learn Colors with Colorful COW Milk Xylophone Funny Animals Colors Videos for Kids, a line of cows in colored cages rests before a set of paths ahead of them, of matching hue. There are gates on each cage, however, and they are of a different, random color compared to their cage. Our stage is a big plank of wood that's floating in the sky. The camera pans before the cages, to ensure we are cognizant of the scenario. At the end of the paths materialize fruit, such as a plate of red apples at the end of he red path, their arrival heralded by the sound of a slide whistle. The whistle continues as the camera follows the path back to the red-caged cow. The cage opens, the cow, lowing, follows the path, and it consumes the apples. It turns a matching shade of red, also to a slide whistle. A voice announces: "Red!" The camera doesn't even bother to keep the cow properly framed on-screen. The "Johnny Johnny Yes Papa" song from some months back begins to play. Of course it does. The newly-tinted cow willingly returns to its chromatic confinement, and its yellow gate shuts behind it. We progress to the next cow, where the pattern repeats. In summary, the colors and fruits for each successive cow are: blue bananas, yellow pumpkins, green er, tubers, and pink, uh, spheres. The pink is actually more of a magenta.

Then, in Pacman Fun Play on Desert Island, Eats Fruits and slides down a Magic Wood Slide, a round, brightly-colored creature, like a 3D version of Pac-Man but with bulging, frog-like eyes and, disturbingly, teeth, makes its familiar waka-waka noise as it glides along a path on what we guess to be a tropical island. Along the way, it eats a few of a type of fruit, its variety announced by a voice. At the end of the fruit is an insect. The Man of Pac eats it, and makes a variety of dismaying noises, ending with "Oh, no!" It rotates side-to-side while emitting large, transparent tears. Suddenly, a bottle bearing the image of the fruit descends from the sky in front of it. It lifts up and tilts, the Pac-Man opens its maw, and a stream of colored fluid pours into it. This appears to please the creature, who, sated, continues on its way. It tumbles along a winding path, over a bridge, Alas, it soon reaches the end of the path, and plummets into the void. Throughout its journey it has been constantly changing colors, and followed by the tune of Old MacDonald Had A Farm. This repeats, with different fruit and a different insect. It begins to happen a third time, but, as if in anticipation that our patience is exhausted, in front of it appear the thumbnail links to other videos. However, behind them, a gigantic infant blocks the Pac-Man's path! Its mind gone, it continues making the same sounds it would have made otherwise, while the huge child kicks it off the island, to the cheering of unseen kids.
posted by JHarris (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I thought YouTube was supposed to do something
posted by Countess Elena at 8:01 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


yayyy
posted by runehog at 8:26 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Oh great, here we go again.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:28 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Good news, everyone! Aliens have arrived, and they've figured out how to create YouTube accounts. We must take care of them and we must help them.
posted by sysinfo at 8:42 PM on February 1


James Brindle has a fabulous video on the nightmare videos of children's Youtube (and why you should keep your kids the hell away from there). Youtube is a great platform to exploit children's attention spans for ad revenue generation using machine generated content. Kids (especially 10 and under) don't have significant cognitive filters for content, and will watch the same videos over and over.
posted by Schadenfreude at 8:56 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]


Panda Bear's refrain from Take Pills
I don't want for us to take pills, take pills, take pills
Because we're stronger and we don't need them
is pretty much my response to Pacman Fun Play on Desert Island, Eats Fruits and slides down a Magic Wood Slide.

It's basically a for loop, with variables fruit, color, friendo accidentally eaten, magic drink. It's zero-effort animation, with ropey samples (how come it's sometimes wokka-wokka, but others it's the Scooby & Shaggy sticks-on-bongos run-away noise?) and gaudy colours. Its terrible and consequently I love it.
posted by scruss at 9:05 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


It kinda upsets me that all those litigious media companies that squash fair use content on Youtube don't go after this crap more. But I guess Disney/Marvel are willing to look the other way as long as Spiderman and Elsa get fed to toddlers with shitty parents.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:12 PM on February 1


Ah yes, perfectly synchronised lions hopping into jello. A phenomenon.
posted by readinghippo at 9:42 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Scientifically proven to reinforce the "eat food of a certain color and you'll turn that color" theorem. Beauregarde Syndrome, I believe. I'm assuming that the lions are liquefied to fill the fertilizer tankers, of course.
posted by sysinfo at 9:57 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


Ok, so I went looking for the one (that I might have seen here a year or so ago) that had a bunch of different colored spidermans (like just a solid color, no details) and like random Disney princesses doing really rando disturbing nonsensical stuff...but it turns out that's like an entire genre now. And I think I may have finally found my calling. Will post to 'projects' when it's done.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:30 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


Oh yay(?) I found it...here. ...There's a lot more punching and shooting and gymnastics and sharks than I remember. Great fun.
Y'know...I was thinking about doing an experiment the other day (I think it would require getting a burner phone or other brand new internet device) and starting from scratch (ie blank slate front page of YouTube) see how few steps it is from something generic like Taylor Swift's latest video to ISIS training videos. Or like '6 degrees from cooking tips to racist memes' or (in this case) 'from learn your colors to learn your colors from actual freaking Nazis'. I was thinking of simple rules like 'only recommended videos from above the fold' or 'just the top 3' but use your instincts to find the horrors. *Sigh* I probably won't do it though...I'm kinda frightened that it may be way fewer than 6 degrees, no matter how limiting the rules.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:15 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


From a clean slate, it was six "up next" video clicks from Taylor Swift's "Delicate" to "The Rothschilds are more powerful than we can imagine", and I declined to continue down the rabbit hole into its follow-up suggestions about Freemasons, George Soros, etc... Granted, that's me picking the worst of the 9-12 suggestions when auto-play is off.
Start->1->2->3->4->5->6
posted by sysinfo at 1:39 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Separate from that, on a new-to-me IPv6 address & clean browser: from the homepage it was 10 videos from the featured video "Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - Shallow (A Star Is Born)" to "Time Traveler From 2033 Gives Timeline of Future Events" which springboards into third world war prophecies, magnetic pole flips, something that "they" are hiding in Egypt, etc. No Nazis/ISIS at least!

The 'kids' videos seem fairly walled-in, in that it just keeps recommending videos from the same few (albeit weird) channels.
posted by sysinfo at 2:12 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Some day, grown adults will look back fondly on these videos the same way many of us do for classic Sesame Street.

I've seen a fair number of these now, and one thing that strikes me is the variety. Although Pac-Man shows up way too often, there's a plethora of weird plots and happenings there. I wonder what software they used to make them?

Anyway, I will say that that "Oh, no!" sound gets overused a ton.
posted by JHarris at 4:40 AM on February 2


sexyrobot, all you need to do is open up a new browser profile or use incognito mode.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:24 AM on February 2


Maybe it's clearer to more tech literate people but it may still be worth pointing out that these aren’t generated by artificial intelligence. They're the product of person(s) with rudimentary computer graphics skills.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:15 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Somebody in a grey suit in smoke-filled, underlit room in mid 2013 was smiling as he mentioned that ad revenue made deniable long-game psyop campaigns budget-neutral.
posted by mhoye at 7:49 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


> sexyrobot, all you need to do is open up a new browser profile or use incognito mode.

It takes more than that because Google will base recommendations on the browsing information provided by devices on your subnetwork that most closely match the device currently using incognito mode from the same network IP. I discovered this when YouTube began recommending a lot of cooking shows to the Safari browser on my desktop computer but not Chrome; I frequently watch cooking shows on other devices through Safari, but not my desktop computer.
posted by ardgedee at 11:43 AM on February 2


"see how few steps it is from something generic like Taylor Swift's latest video to ISIS training videos. "

Is this any different from playing twenty questions with someone, and being scandalized when they correctly deduce that you were thinking of ISIS?

Some proportion of people want to watch things that another proportion of people think are pretty awful. The recommender system is designed to help people quickly get to things they want to watch, based on aggregates of what other people have watched... (Others have tried your experiment with purely random choices... Proving that if you literally don't care what you watch, then the system deduces you'll also enjoy Qanon. And again we can ask, problem with the recommender or problem with the people?)

So I would argue that the actual monster here is humans: garbage in, garbage out. And then we can also see that these are not new problems: similar arguments came up with the printing press, cheap newspapers, and the proliferation of cable channels, as lowering the bar to entry makes it easier for content creators to turn trash into cash.

Similarly, I'm reminded of the outrage over telletubbies, the prior iteration of bright colored stuff for small children... And also fondly recall the stuff I watched as a kid, which, on even the barest revisiting, was complete garbage. (I mean really. Go check out some he-man if you haven't lately, and decide how it stacks up against color changing lions... Best argument I can muster is the Lebowski defense - at least he-man had an ethos, dude.)
posted by kaibutsu at 12:04 PM on February 2


Is this any different from playing twenty questions with someone, and being scandalized when they correctly deduce that you were thinking of ISIS?

Wellll...according to the videos sysinfo posted, it's more like playing 20 questions with someone and their second question is "would you like to see some dead animals, bloody rags, and broken zip-ties pulled out of a 'mystery box ordered off the dark web'?" Jesus Fucking Christ! "Dark web mystery box" is like the most horrifying concept I've heard of in like a year...a year where trump was president. Holy crap! What the hell?
posted by sexyrobot at 3:45 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


This related video from Folding Ideas is worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKp2gikIkD8
posted by jonnay at 4:08 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The recommender system is designed to help people quickly get to things they want to watch, based on aggregates of what other people have watched...

For me, it's awful. It assumed for a while that, since I've watched some arcade playthroughs, that all I want to watch are arcade playthroughs. It also assumed that I wanted to watch a bunch of those idiot videos with a provocative titles in large letters and some guy's cartoon avatar reacting to it. I would rather have videos that are strictly to do with the one I just watched, as those at least are somewhat likely to be want to watch at the moment, but no, for months my Youtube sidebar was dominated by "Recommended for you" videos.

(Others have tried your experiment with purely random choices... Proving that if you literally don't care what you watch, then the system deduces you'll also enjoy Qanon. And again we can ask, problem with the recommender or problem with the people?)

The recommender, for making false assumptions about me based on what behavior it observed from other people. It doesn't have the data to make a good assumption about what I like, but it tries anyway, and those tries are literally worse than not trying at all because it elbows out videos that are related to the current video.
posted by JHarris at 7:38 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


BTW, if your experience with this extremely odd corner of Youtube is just of the disturbing Spiderman/Elsa/other character videos, this are actually not those. These are more random and abstract, and contain about 1,000% more frog-eyed Pac-Man than you might expect.
posted by JHarris at 7:53 PM on February 3


And, well, I kind of like them, some of them at least. While they're crudely animated and reuse sound effects a lot, and how many times does a kid really need the colors identified for them, some of them would not have been out of place as a short bit on classic Sesame Street. My opinion is evolving, is what I mean. Anyway, it's obviously one of those things no one cares about but myself. I'll add it to the pile.
posted by JHarris at 6:32 AM on February 4


« Older Just how many ways can you prepare goat?   |   “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments