Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Artificial Humour (AH)

Some recondite but influential thinkers continue to claim that Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot resemble Human Intelligence because machines, no matter how sophisticated, can neither replicate nor “understand” the human emotions involved in humour, wit, aesthetic response, taste and so forth. Their argument is summarized in the catch-phrase “computers can’t tell jokes”. Defenders of AI have struggled for generations with this problem, whose importance may be more related to an internecine struggle for theoretical dominance amongst experts than for the practical value of endowing machines with human attributes. In any case, attempts to humanize computers have not so far been encouraging. Domestic computers can certainly now be programmed to decorate their output with an occasional witticism, but subtleties of mood and context, without which humour doesn’t work, continue to elude them. In human terms, they have remained “dull-witted”.

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