Researchers develop software that laughs at bad jokes

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Cincinnati (OH) – Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed software that recognizes humor, specifically jokes that rely on word plays and puns.  Julia Taylor and Larry Mazlack trained their program on age-old “knock knock” jokes that would make most sane humans groan.  The pair presented their findings to the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Vancouver.

The researchers initially trained the program on child-level English jokes that revolved around plays on people’s names.  One such joke was “Knock, Knock. Who is there? Dawn. Dawn who? Dawn by the station, early in the morning.”

They then exposed the software to knock knock jokes based on puns like, “Knock, Knock. Who is there? Dismay. Dismay who? Dismay not be a funny joke.”  The program searches its word database to see if the words fit the sentences’ intended meaning.  If the words don’t match, then it searches for similar sounding words and flags the entire phrase as humor.

The researchers admit that they still have a lot of work to do because the program relies on intensive prior training of words.  For now, they say that one of the robot’s favorite jokes is

Mother to boy: “Johnny, you’ve been working in the garden a lot this summer.
Boy: “I know. My teacher told me to weed a lot.”

Read more … University of Cincinnati.