FILE - This Monday, Aug. 1, 2016 file photo shows the humanoid robot "Alter" on display at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. Understanding humor may be one of the last things that separates humans from ever smarter machines, computer scientists and linguists say. (Koji Sasahara/Associated Press)
文件 - 本周一,2016年8月1日文件照片显示在东京国家新兴科学与创新博物馆展出的人形机器人"Alter"。计算机科学家和语言学家说,理解幽默可能是人类与智慧机器分离的最后一件事。 (Koji Sasahara / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON --- A robot walks into a bar. It goes CLANG.

Alexa and Siri can tell jokes mined from a humor database, but they just don't get them.

Linguists and computer scientists say this is something to consider on April Fools' Day: Humor is what makes humans special. When people try to teach machines what's funny, the results are at times laughable but not quite in the way intended.

"Artificial intelligence will never get jokes like humans do," said Kiki Hempelmann, a computational linguist who studies humor at Texas A&M University-Commerce. "In themselves, they have no need for humor. They miss completely context."
"人工智能永远不会像人类那样开玩笑,"在德克萨斯A&M大学商学院学习幽默的计算语言学家Kiki Hempelmann说。 "他们自己也不需要幽默。他们完全错过了背景。"

And when it comes to humor, the people who study it --- sometimes until all laughs are beaten out of it --- say context is key. Even expert linguists have trouble explaining humor, said Tristan Miller, a computer scientist and linguist at Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany.
当谈到幽默时,研究它的人 - 有时直到所有的笑声都被打败 - 说上下文是关键。德国达姆施塔特工业大学的计算机科学家和语言学家特里斯坦米勒说,即使是专家语言学家也难以解释幽默。

"Creative language --- and humor in particular --- is one of the hardest areas for computational intelligence to grasp," said Miller, who has analyzed more than 10,000 puns and called it torture. "It's because it relies so much on real-world knowledge --- background knowledge and commonsense knowledge. A computer doesn't have these real-world experiences to draw on. It only knows what you tell it and what it draws from."
"创造性的语言 - 特别是幽默 - 是计算智能最难掌握的领域之一,"米勒说,他已经分析了超过10,000个双关语并称之为酷刑。 "这是因为它非常依赖现实世界的知识 - 背景知识和常识知识。计算机没有这些现实世界的经验可供借鉴。它只知道你告诉它什么以及它从中得到什么。"

Allison Bishop, a Columbia University computer scientist who also performs stand-up comedy, said computer learning looks for patterns, but comedy thrives on things hovering close to a pattern and veering off just a bit to be funny and edgy.

Humor, she said, "has to skate the edge of being cohesive enough and surprising enough."

For comedians that's job security. Bishop said her parents were happy when her brother became a full-time comedy writer because it meant he wouldn't be replaced by a machine.

"I like to believe that there is something very innately human about what makes something funny," Bishop said.

Oregon State University computer scientist Heather Knight created the comedy-performing robot Ginger to help her design machines that better interact with --- and especially respond to --- humans. She said it turns out people most appreciate a robot's self-effacing humor.
俄勒冈州立大学的计算机科学家希瑟·奈特(Heather Knight)创造了喜剧表演机器人姜,以帮助她设计出更好地与人类交流的机器 - 特别是对人类的反应。她说,事实证明,人们最欣赏机器人自我谦卑的幽默。

Ginger, which uses human-written jokes and stories, does a bit about Shakespeare and machines, asking, "If you prick me in my battery pack, do I not bleed alkaline fluid?" in a reference to "The Merchant of Venice."

Humor and artificial intelligence is a growing field for academics.

Some computers can generate and understand puns --- the most basic humor --- without help from humans because puns are based on different meanings of similar-sounding words. But they fall down after that, said Purdue University computer scientist Julia Rayz.
有些计算机可以生成和理解双关语 - 最基本的幽默 - 没有人类的帮助,因为双关语是基于类似发音单词的不同含义。但普渡大学计算机科学家朱莉娅雷兹说,之后它们就会倒下。

"They get them --- sort of," Rayz said. "Even if we look at puns, most of the puns require huge amounts of background."
"他们得到了他们 - 有点像,"雷兹说。 "即使我们看双关语,大多数双关语都需要大量的背景。"

Still, with puns there is something mathematical that computers can grasp, Bishop said.

Rayz has spent 15 years trying to get computers to understand humor, and at times the results were, well, laughable. She recalled a time she gave the computer two different groups of sentences. Some were jokes. Some were not. The computer classified something as a joke that people thought wasn't a joke. When Rayz asked the computer why it thought it was a joke, its answer made sense technically. But the material still wasn't funny, nor memorable, she said.

IBM has created artificial intelligence that beat opponents in chess and "Jeopardy!" Its latest attempt, Project Debater, is more difficult because it is based on language and aims to win structured arguments with people, said principal investigator Noam Slonim, a former comedy writer for an Israeli version of "Saturday Night Live."
IBM创造了人工智能,在国际象棋和"危险!"中击败了对手。以色列版"周六夜现场"的前喜剧作家,首席调查员Noam Slonim表示,其最新的尝试,项目辩论,更难,因为它是基于语言,旨在赢得与人的结构性论点。

Slonim put humor into the programming, figuring that an occasional one-liner could help in a debate. But it backfired during initial tests when the system made jokes at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Now, Project Debater is limited to one attempt at humor per debate, and that humor is often self-effacing.
斯洛尼姆把幽默放入节目中,认为偶尔的单行可以帮助辩论。但是,当系统在错误的时间或以错误的方式制作笑话时,它在初始测试期间适得其反。现在,Project Debater仅限于每次辩论中的一次幽默尝试,这种幽默往往是自我贬低的。

"We know that humor --- at least good humor --- relies on nuance and on timing," Slonim said. "And these are very hard to decipher by an automatic system."
"我们知道幽默 - 至少是幽默 - 依赖于细微差别和时机,"斯洛尼姆说。 "而这些很难通过自动系统解读。"

That's why humor may be key in future Turing Tests --- the ultimate test of machine intelligence, which is to see if an independent evaluator can tell if it is interacting with a person or computer --- Slonim said.
这就是为什么幽默可能是未来图灵测试的关键 - 机器智能的最终测试,即看一个独立的评估者是否可以判断它是否与人或计算机进行交互--- Slonim说。

There's still "a very significant gap between what machines can do and what humans are doing," both in language and humor, Slonim said.

There are good reasons to have artificial intelligence try to learn to get humor, Darmstadt University's Miller said. It makes machines more relatable, especially if you can get them to understand sarcasm. That also may aid with automated translations of different languages, he said.

Texas A&M's Hempelmann isn't so sure that's a good idea.

"Teaching AI systems humor is dangerous because they may find it where it isn't and they may use it where it's inappropriate," Hempelmann said. "Maybe bad AI will start killing people because it thinks it is funny."
"教授人工智能系统的幽默是危险的,因为他们可能会发现它并非如此,他们可能会在不合适的地方使用它,"亨佩尔曼说。 "也许糟糕的AI会开始杀人,因为它认为这很有趣。"

Comedian and computer scientist Bishop does have a joke about artificial intelligence: She says she agrees with all the experts warning us that someday AI is going to surpass human intelligence.

"I don't think it's because AI is getting smarter," Bishop jokes, then she adds: "If the AI gets that, I think we have a problem."

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.
在Twitter上关注Seth Borenstein @borenbears。

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