Saturday, October 18, 2008

Comedy and the Turing Test

Brothers, Sisters, and Transgendered Comedists everywhere,

This week, good brother 71 sent me a link to this article, "Computers Crack Jokes in Unusual Artificial Intelligence Test."

Alan Turing used as a sufficient condition for artificial intelligence a test wherein if a human could not tell he or she was conversing with a machine, then that machine would have to be considered to be thinking. A competition is held in Reading, England based on this idea and human judges carry on two IM type conversations at the same time with one of the conversants being human and one being computer-generated. The judges are then asked to determine which is which and the program that fools the most judges wins. Some of the computers used jokes to disguise themselves as human:

Cleverbot, designed by Rollo Carpenter, used humor to try to fool the judges.

Roberts said Elbot worked by catching some of the judges off-guard with provocative answers or impishly hinting that it was, in fact, a machine.

"Hi. How's it going?" one judge began.

"I feel terrible today," Elbot replied. "This morning I made a mistake and poured milk over my breakfast instead of oil, and it rusted before I could eat it."
So, what would happen if you could program a computer to generate great material and have perfect timing. Suppose that these were not jokes programed in by the programmer, but rather a complex program that could, say, make puns that the programmer never thought of. The machine would be funny, but, in line with the Turing Test, could it be said to have a sense of humor?

I will leave you with a computer joke:

A doctor, a civil engineer, and a computer scientist were arguing about what was the oldest profession in the world. The doctor remarked "Well, in the Bible it says that God created Eve from a rib taken from Adam. This clearly required surgery so I can rightly claim that mine is the oldest profession in the world."

The civil engineer interrupted and said "But even earlier in the book of Genesis, it states that God created the order of the heavens and the earth from out of the chaos. This was the first and certainly the most spectacular application of civil engineering. Therefore, fair doctor, you are wrong; mine is the oldest profession in the world."

The computer scientist leaned back in his chair, smiled, and said confidently, "Ah, but who do you think created the chaos?

Your favorite computer joke?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve