Ever have autocorrect help you craft an unintentionally hilarious text message? Entire websites are now devoted to this shared experience.
A team of Artificial Intelligence researchers are, in fact, trying to harness these unintended consequences for good. Playful good.
Their software, which will be presented at an AI symposium in Arlington, Virginia, next month, plays the humour card in two steps. The first is timing — if the software turned words in every sentence in an application into offbeat puns, it would just be tiresome. So it changes words only occasionally, interjecting at random intervals. Second, it derives comical terms by plundering dictionaries of related words on subjects that are favourite comedy staples, such as religion and sex.
“It might be funny or not, we cannot control it,” admits Valitutti — but the idea is that sometimes it will be. One application for the software, he suggests, is to inject such humour into a reminder system, so instead of being told your cakes are about to burn, you might get an absurdly comical message that still encourages you to turn off the oven.
In my view (and many others), fun and play are core parts of our human experience. Shouldn’t software and technology support this aspect of our life just as much as they do our productivity and communication?