An Artificial Intelligence is Taught to Tell Jokes, and the Results are Almost Funny

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 - 7:19PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Weird Science
Tuesday, 22 May 2018 - 7:19PM
An Artificial Intelligence is Taught to Tell Jokes, and the Results are Almost Funny
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Flickr/Paul Hudson
It's always fascinating to watch an AI program attempt creative tasks - partly because of the philosophical questions that come along with it, and partly because it always ends up unintentionally replicating the creepy, surrealist humor that the internet loves so much.

Case in point: The Headlinertron, an artificially intelligent comedian set up by human comedian C.J. Hernandez. A product of machine learning and the online program Botnik, The Headlinertron was shown several hours of standup comedy specials, from performers like Dave Chappelle, John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, etc. and then told to write its own jokes based on that.

As you can imagine, The Headlinertron became very good at forming sentences that sound quite a bit like jokes, but which are devoid of much meaning or go completely off the rails as the AI attempts to understand topics that it learned about from comedians. Either way, it's funny in a way that Headlinertron probably wasn't intending.

See some of The Headlinertron's comedic stylings below:
















According to Motherboard, most of these are initially produced without punctuation on Botnik, before Hernandez cleans it up a little and schedules it for Twitter. So it's not a true Twitter bot, but there's no human writing any of those "jokes".



It also helps that Botnik is specifically geared toward fun projects like this, analyzing entertainment so it can serve as a predictive text generator for certain subjects. To see other examples of Botnik in action, try reading a scene from Scrubs written by Botnik after receiving lots of scripts from the show.

This is far from the first time that AI programs tried their digital hands at creative endeavors. To read some machine artwork that's even less coherent than Headlinertron, there's also Christmas carols and Valentine's messages written by androids-turned-artists.
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