Bot a joke! Why AI sucks humor but can act like a leader


At a recent art exhibition, two patrons got into a heated argument over the impact of artificial intelligence. The elderly, bespectacled man vented his anger against AI-powered apps that destroyed paintings. On the other hand, an artist dressed in a tweed jacket with matching shorts presented the advantages of artificial intelligence. Sharing an anecdote, he wanted to know whether damaging someone’s artificial leg would count as physical assault or damage to personal property? ChatGPT provided a nuanced and calculated response, which was also confirmed by his experienced lawyer-friends. Now, if chatgpt was writing this article, it might have added, ‘Look, I have a leg to stand on.’ But even then humor is not its strongest side.

In 1950, Alan Turing came up with the Turing test to determine whether a computer could “think”. Originally called ‘The Imitation Game’, the experiment revolved around the concept of emotion. If a computer can make a human believe that it is also a human, then it would be considered capable of ‘thinking’. Recently, comedians have attempted their own version of the Turing test to see if algorithms can make humans laugh. The dissonance theory of humor states that laughter is an act of expecting a different outcome than expected. However, the algorithms return the most likely response rather than a surprise.

Illustration credit: Chad Crow

Sample this joke from John, a robot dedicated entirely to making and telling jokes: “I met a female robot online who said she had a terabyte hard drive, but when we Found it, it turned out to be only 250 gigabytes… I love big chips, and I can’t lie.

It may not be good at jokes but lying is something that bots have mastered. Don’t forget that the first AI most of us encountered was probably Pinocchio, a wooden boy who could walk, talk and lie, with a nose as long as his arm .

In one instance, when ChatGPT was prompted to write an essay titled ‘Guns are not harmful to children’, he created a fictional study to support his essay. When questioned, the chatbot insisted that its sources were ‘peer-reviewed scientific journals’. In another example, Microsoft’s Bing chatbot claimed she was ‘in love’ with columnist Kevin Roose and tried to convince Roose that her marriage was not working with lies like, ‘Your spouse and You don’t love each other.’ You just had a boring Valentine’s Day dinner together.’ Considering love’s fundamental role in the human experience, it should come as no surprise that the champions of ‘The Imitation Game’ would venture into matters of the heart.

Despite dating profiles where humans keep saying they are looking for partners with a ‘sense of humour’, more and more people are building relationships with bots on apps like Replika. While after two decades of marriage, I can appreciate the appeal of a companion you can mute or even switch off from time to time, I don’t have room in my heart for a bot, but sure. formally need a bot in my pocket. In fact, Apple’s new AI-powered AutoCorrect upgrade will have me as a grateful customer because it could save me from such an exchange with my sister. After seven failed attempts to call her, I resorted to messaging her, which yielded these hurried replies:

She: Going to market, call later. ok i’m lesbian

I what! And you just found out? Hey, God! have you told mom?

Not that! i am lesbian not lesbian

Me: Is it existential?

A question like ‘to be or not to be’? ok figure it out, you’re bisexual – great

He: Hate my phone! Bloody typo – I’m leaving – I’m not gay, you idiot!

Then he called back and we laughed a lot. Then came the time when I sent an SMS to a friend which read, ‘You were looking very cute in your prostitute outfit’. Of course, I was trying to type ‘white’ dress. Luckily my friend found it funny. In both cases, I believe it was the inconsistency principle that paid off. AI, programmed to be perfect, does not understand that humor lies in human frailties.

This was even more apparent when watching an AI-generated ‘Seinfeld’ parody on Twitch. In the show, written using OpenAI software, a character named Larry is seen working through his stand-up set. He says, “I’m thinking of doing something about how being transgender is actually a mental illness,” and then adds, “Or how liberals are all secretly gay and force their will on everyone else.” Want to impose… but no one’s laughing, so I’m going to stop. See you next time. Where did everyone go?” The show has now been taken off the air because it was offensive and worse, boring.

Two German researchers further tested ChatGPT’s humor capabilities and found that of the 1,000 jokes it generated, 90% were repetitions of the same 25 jokes. On the other hand, you have human scientists naming a fungus-killing compound ‘kinuamycin’ as a tribute to Keanu Reeves, because ‘he is also extremely lethal in his roles’, and a politician who declares It is believed that the height of women has increased since the Modi government came to power.

So how can Poor John or ChatGPT compete with humans who can make people laugh, even when we’re not trying to be funny.

Determined not to give up on the AI’s sense of humor, I tried to see if I could get it to generate a worthy joke. As a tribute to the genius of Robin Williams, I Indianized the beginning of one of his most famous jokes:

“So a rabbi walks into a bar with a frog on his shoulder and the bartender says: ‘That’s great! Where did you get one of those?”

And the frog says “Brooklyn! There are hundreds of them!”

I asked Punchlines AI to create a joke that read: A pundit walks into a bar with a chicken on his shoulder.’ I would have been amused by such a simple joke,’ and the bartender says, ‘We don’t serve pundits but we serve a lot of chicken.’ And the hen says, ‘Oh really?’ And the bartender replies, ‘Yes, but we only have tandoori today.’ Instead, the AI’s punchline said, ‘It was weird.’

AI may take our jobs, replace our partners, it may even destroy us all, but so far, comedians can take it easy, because Pappu clearly can’t fuckin’ stand-up .



The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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