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January 16, 2023 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Getting the funny

Why did the robot cross the road?

(He’d been programed by a chicken.)

Dexter. Robot co-host from Australian game show(Image by Canley/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Is this a joke or not? Dexter, the robot co-host on an Australian game show evaluated human compatibility. He looks pretty bright to me.(Canley/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Robots are struggling against their nature to better companions to humans (Hey, anyone/ anything that runs by and picks up dog hair tumbleweeds without being asked, already gets my nod.)

Darn it! Humans are so demanding. You want a fancy piece of art in the style of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Seurat, or even Andy Warhol?  Easy, peasy. It’s done. That’s not enough?

Robots got talents.

What they don’t got is humor. 

Robby the Robot carrying limp actress Anne Francis. 1958 MGM poter for Forbidden Planet. (USPD. REPROD OF PD POSTER. pub.date, artist life/COmmons.wikimedia.org)

“She said she wanted to die laughing. OK, happy to oblige. And now everyone is upset?” Robby, the Robot, carrying limp actress Anne Francis.(1958 MGM movie poster/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

During discussions on a previous post featuring funny vintage holiday greeting and postcards (here), a commenter pointed out that computers/robots/AI are quite able to create similar items – and provided a few examples: lovely examples of cupids, fairies, and New Year Babes. 

The AI produced images do a great job mimicking styles, and subject matter, but what I started wondering is could AI/a computer – by itself – generate completely original poses and scenes with the added little touches that do make these cards humorous to people?

You know, the tiny details like facial expressions, items with witty multiple meanings, the placement and poses of the figures? Add in witty contrast? Puns slipped in? Eye glasses?

Computers can create according to instructions, but do they understand why we laugh?

Can AI or robots synthesize humor?

Everyone says humor is very difficult for robots as these do not have a frame of reference to understand what makes “funny”.

Humans have context and references; robots can be clueless.

Robot threatening man. Movie poster from the serial Master Mystery, 1919. B.A. Rolfe Productions (USPD pub.date artist life/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Hey, I told the joke just the way the programers told me to. Now, Laugh. Laugh, I tell you!”(1919/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

For robots to be really accepted as helpful companions, people need to feel comfortable around them. A smile, a little joke, goes a long way.

Don’t give up hope! They are on it.

So robots are learning to laugh and when to use which laugh – like little kids do: by paying attention to facial expressions, body language, and speaker’s speech patterns.

When to use a small chuckle, when to use a belly laugh in full mirth, and when a loud snort of laughter is totally inappropriate.

Quite an undertaking.

Many humans can’t figure all that out.

Robot. Chariots of Wire. (Image: Steve Jurvetson/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Robot. “Chariots of Wire.” Now this is just darn funny – but seriously, could this be your next car share or cab ride? Inquiring minds want to know, does the “driver” tell jokes and know where the good restaurants are? (Image: Steve Jurvetson/Commons.wikimedia.org)

What about “Turn about, fair play”? 

A robot that looks like a Lunar Rover has been taught to play golf. (If you managed to miss the story of Golfi, catch up here at Popular Science or here Daily Mail)

All I can say if a robot can be taught by humans to play, maybe robots can teach humans once again laugh.

  • Why was the robot tired when it got home (It had a hard drive.)
  • Why is a droid mechanic never lonely? (Because it’s always making new friends!)
  • What do robots eat for snacks? (Micro-chips)
  • What do you call a pirate robot? (Arrrrgh-2-D2)

Always leave them laughing

 (And thanks again to blogger, Disperser Tracks, for this rabbit hole to jump down)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

23 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. marina kanavaki / Jan 16 2023 8:26 am

    We’re in deep trouble, my friend. Our 4 legged friends, know better! 😉
    Paw waves from Hera!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. easyweimaraner / Jan 16 2023 8:33 am

    ha! yes… if chickens do the program for the robots we have a special time LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 16 2023 4:31 pm

      Hank wants to know if we can program one to bring the chicken dinners back from across the road….or would that be a conflict of interest? HaHa
      Paw wave and thanks for barking along

      Like

  3. SusanR / Jan 16 2023 10:40 am

    Robots can be extraordinarily useful, but I don’t need or expect them to laugh. Or show any other emotion, for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 16 2023 12:11 pm

      Yeah. robots chatting around the water cooler on an auto assembly line would be a problem. Thanks for creating that funny situation (Wonder if they would try to organize into a union..or if they would be welcomed into the existing one? HAH)
      Enjoy that snow! (Robot shovelers could be useful…working quickly 24-7 without fraternizing or asking for tips?Snort)Thanks for the suggested giggles

      Like

  4. Anne Mehrling / Jan 16 2023 11:19 am

    Loved this post! If I ever have a robot, it will have to laugh with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. disperser / Jan 16 2023 2:24 pm

    There is a slight misdirection in using the word robot.

    You can put an AI program in charge of a robot, but they are two separate components of a system. You can have AIs completely disassociated with physical interaction (much of what we now see with AIs), and you can have a robot without any AI functions.

    It sounds like I’m nitpicking, but I don’t see robots as the end path for AIs. Sure, some might be, eventually, but I think AIs will, first and foremost, see widespread use in software systems before being merged to ambulatory machines. I’m referring to true AI, the kind we don’t yet have (general intelligence), and not programs that will respond to prompts by referencing a large database they don’t understand.

    And yes, humor is very difficult to get. As you say, even for most humans.

    For that matter, the articles hint at something that should be obvious. Say AIs do become sentient-like, it’s unlikely they would have a sense of humor similar to ours.

    That’s because humor arises from personal experiences and seeing the incongruity in our nature, the difference between what we plan or profess versus what we actually do or think. It stands to reason an AI will have a ‘different’ nature, experiences, and hence humor.

    When the person in the article says the AI’s humor wasn’t funny, they’re not considering that it might have been funny if they were AIs.

    Thanks for the links.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 16 2023 4:29 pm

      Love your comment about AI’s humor not thought “funny” by humans. (Also your 6th paragraph simply and effectively restating the main topic)
      And you are right I was being too free with “robot” – inappropriately blending it with AI – or not clearing up that “robots” are not the end goal of AI. Too often the two are casually used interchangeably although not really accurate …West World style? Makes the pictures work on the post, though. ((..I am waiting for some Aussie to chime in about that game show…)
      Not nitpicking at all. The whole true AI development is fascinating. A whole new world.
      Always enjoy your thought provoking (and witty) comments. Thanks for charging up here

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Curt Mekemson / Jan 16 2023 6:34 pm

    I’m thinking we would have to give robots all of our strengths and weaknesses to be buddies. Not sure we want them running around with our weaknesses, given how messed up we can be. It’s scary enough that they are now developing military robots that have great potential to go awry. Robots that can help old people get up and go to the bathroom, or drive you where you want to go. Bring em on. I can talk to plants, or Eeyore. And I already talk to robota our vacuum cleaner. I can relate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 19 2023 3:20 pm

      Service robots have a future….can they all be like Jetson’s Rosie? (Will they hold up to a male dog walking and mistaking them for a fireplug? HAHA) Thanks for checking in – hope it’s going well …winter can be annoying to wanderers.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Jan 21 2023 7:04 am

        Do you read the comic strip ‘Barney and Clyde?’ Grandpa has a robot dog. It’s quite funny. Speaking of which, it’s always fun seeing what you guys and your menagerie are up to.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. sustainabilitea / Jan 16 2023 8:01 pm

    Robots can have many uses but things like ChatBox are scary. Hard to determine what’s true and what isn’t, even more so than now. As mentioned, there are plenty humans with no sense of humor or with offensive ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 19 2023 3:18 pm

      AI editors don’t write right; and Chat(s) aren’t double checking facts, kids (write your own essays and test answers…we’ll be back to oral school exams before you know it – and all short answer/essays don’t in class – with devices collected until after work completed and turned in)
      Funny, vintage Sci-fi may become tutorials for humans in the future?
      Thanks for turning on the comment switch here

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ally Bean / Jan 18 2023 7:34 am

    We all think that when robots evolve we’ll get C3PO [Star Wars] but I’m betting we’ll be stuck with Marvin the Paranoid Android [Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy].

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 19 2023 3:13 pm

      Not Rosie from the Jetsons? Sigh. You’re probably right. Neither of yours will be much help with dog tumbleweeds! (“No, Roombas don’t work…other than for comic relief,” said The German …speaking from her experience)
      Nice to see you back! Thanks for dropping by to put wrench in the mix

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Bruce @ walkingoffthechessboard / Jan 19 2023 11:26 am

    I don’t trust robots as far as I can throw them, and while I have yet to toss a robot in any particular direction, I feel confident since they were created by humans they are prone to fail. We still have to fine-tune the human race first!😁

    Liked by 1 person

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