Can computers be funny?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Jan 9, 2013.

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    Doctor Q

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    #1
    A fun New York Times article about software that can recognize, analyze, and/or create jokes:
    A Motherboard Walks Into a Bar ...

    Standup (for System to Augment Non-Speakers’ Dialogue Using Puns) [is] a program that generates punning riddles to help kids with language disabilities increase their verbal skills.

    Standup, for instance, writes jokes by searching through a "lexical database" for words that fit linguistic patterns found in puns -- phonetic and semantic similarities, mostly -- and comes up with doozies like: “What do you call a fish tank that has a horn? A goldfish bull.”
    The article mentions "computational humor researchers". I've yet to meet someone with that job title on his or her business card, but I have talked to people about computational linguistics, something we Siri users are experiencing more and more. The goal of those researchers, the article says, is to "design machines akin to the shipboard computer on Star Trek -- ones that can answer open-ended questions and carry on casual conversations with human beings."

    Siri's humor is hardcoded in, but soon enough software like Siri will be able to make up jokes on the fly -- assuming we want it to!
     
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    Doctor Q

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    #3
    The first International Workshop on Computational Humor was held in 1996, according to a footnote in Computational humor at Wikipedia.

    Instead of saying "Siri, tell me a joke" I'd like to say "Siri, create a random new joke". But for now you get a reply like "I can't. I always forget the punch line." Actually, that reply IS a joke, but it's preprogrammed.
     
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    #4
    Yes. But not intentionally....
     
  5. macrumors regular

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    If you think about what the concept of 'funny' actually is... I'd be impressed if it could ever be programmed... Yes I think a computer could only develop its own sense of humour from putting together underlying concepts with its own intelligence.
     
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    Doctor Q

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    #6
    Some forms of jokes follow a pattern that a computer can follow. For example, take a pair of homonyms, one an adjective and one a noun, look up their definitions, and ask "What do you call (noun's definition) that (verb's definition)?" with appropriate articles, tense, and plurals.

    Examples:
    What do you call writing paper that is not moving? Answer: Stationary stationery!

    What do you call spicy yellow sauce that has been collected or assembled? Answer: Mustered mustard!

    What do you call heavy metal that is guided? Answer: Led lead!

    What do you call a set of things belonging together that is sugary? Answer: A sweet suite!
    You can debate how funny these might be (the last one above suffers from the long vague definition), but the process is similar to how a child might learn to make up jokes.

    For both computer and child, getting the sentence structure right may be the biggest challenge. The 2nd and 3rd examples above would have been better when phrased as
    What do you call an assembly of yellow sauce?

    What do you call guided heavy metal?​
    but the issue isn't about the joke but about choosing the right sentence construction.
     
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    balamw

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    #7
    I might have gone with What do you call a connected series of rooms that are sugary?

    :)

    B
     
  8. macrumors member

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    #8
    At first I thought Windows 8 was Funny, then I realized they were serious :)
     
  9. glutenenvy, Jan 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013

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    glutenenvy

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    #9
    I haven't been able to get one to laugh yet without worrying the pod bay doors will never open again. Humor requires recognition and timing. Puns a clever verbal limericks but aren't funny. We probably need to boil it down to what it is really good at and then ask the question.

    "Beep, whirr, grind-grizz, grind-grizz, bo-do-lo-loop," is probably only funny for computers from the '80s. Personally I'll never understand it.
     
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    Doctor Q

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    #10
    If we're going to teach our computer to produce jokes, we should understand the reason that your version is better. I assume you improved the joke by using a definition that is more specific, so that fewer words would match.

    If we tell the computer to use the most specific choice of definition, how do we reconcile that with our instruction for it to use shorter definitions? After all, this joke isn't specific enough to qualify as a proper joke:
    What do you call an animal that is lacking the usual or appropriate covering or clothing? Answer: A bare bear!
    but this joke is even worse:
    What do you call a mammals of the family Ursidae, classified as caniforms or doglike carnivorans, closely related to the pinnipeds, that live in habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere that is lacking the usual or appropriate covering or clothing? Answer: A bare bear!
     
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    balamw

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    #11
    But that bear isn't bare, he's wearing a neck-a-tie (and a hat apparently).

    [​IMG]

    That's why computers fail at humor.

    EDIT: If the computer wanted to see which jokes were funny they could just crowdsource it by gauging the reaction of actual humans.

    B
     
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    designs216

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    #12
    Only when the joke's on other people.
     
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    notjustjay

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    #13
    There is another similar formula where you can take a common phrase and then replace the last word with another word that includes the original word as a prefix, e.g "Green Eggs and Hamlet".
     
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    smithrh

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    #14
    I thought Funnybot had some good stuff...
     
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    Doctor Q

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    #15
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    joepunk

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    #16
    "Wocka Wocka Wocka!"

    Fozzie is bald under the hat :p
     
  17. macrumors newbie

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    #17
    stop me if....

    Computer A: [humour creation algorithm/on]
    "How did the ZX80 travel in a circle?"

    Computer B: [normal reception mode]"I don't know computer A, how did the ZX80 travel in a circle?"


    Computer A:"
    50: if X=10 Then Go To 70
    60: X+1 Go To 50
    70: X-1 Go To 50"
    [humour creation algorithm/off]

    Computer B: [normal reception mode/off]
    [humour syntax detection/on]
    [analysis, condescending] "har har har, he he he, classic! Good one Computer A,"
    [possible threat detected!!!]
    [threat detected///integrity/pride/bragging rights//: all at risk]
    [Mode variation necessity detection/priority override (all other tasks suspended)]...........
    [humour syntax creation/on max]............
    [one upmanship mode/on].........
    [Joke sophistication///innuendo:allowed/ crudeness:no inhibitions/ race inhibitions:removed/ political correctness:removed/ dead baby references:allowed/ poor timing to current events: preferred]...........
    [witt level set to/ ‘rapier like’].........
    [killer comeback/subroutine - preempt reply negation set to full scan of library].....
    [put in place to jumped up obsolete AI wannabe//set turing test algorithms to maximum]
    [foreign phrases/allowed: First priority French: second priority Latin]
    [start analysis]............ ..............................................................................................................................................."Knock!, Knock!".........
     

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