University invents computer comedian

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen have developed an algorithm for building jokes, that has been dubbed “The Joking Computer”.  It was originally developed to help kids having to cope with cerebral palsy build their language skills. The program has since been turned into a web page which lets you have a go at building your own gags.

It does warn you when you start up the page that “Some of my jokes aren’t funny” – and it’s true.

It works on an algorithm to bring together similar sounding words and meanings, question-answer style puns. “Like those you get in Christmas crackers,” warns the University of Aberdeen.

While the website and software is clearly geared to a younger audience, the idea is that it can lead to a way for kids with limited or no speech to be able to communicate easier – for example describing what they did at school that day. 

The University also hopes it can get children interested in development and information technology for both acedemia and careers.

We decided to have a go. The very first joke we asked to be built from scratch was:

“What is the difference between a crimson american state and a gay series?” 

“One is a cherry maine, the other is a merry chain.”

Errr.

The next was:

“What do you call a fragment with an aerial?”

“A sender cinder.”

Okay, while computers maybe should not give up their day jobs of email, spreadsheets and pornography, The Joking Computer is still funnier than the likes of Joe Pasquele.