The article in the url below presents an interesting take on the rapidly developing technology associated with artificial intelligence:
"Microsoft is feeding the enormous backlog of New Yorker cartoon submissions into AI software to give machines some understanding of human humor."
This problem/challenge emerged due to the success of The New Yorker's monthly cartoon challenge:
"Since 2005, the back page of the New Yorker has usually featured a wordless, black-and-white cartoon, and the funniest reader-submitted caption gets published in the following issue. The magazine's caption contest has become a fan favorite over the last decade, and the cartoon department receives some 5,000 entries each week."
This creates a heavy workload for the magazine's cartoon editor's assistant, who tends to last in the position "barely a couple of years because [the task] keeps burning them out." Hence the invitation to Microsoft to try and ease the burden:
"Soon, [the cartoon editor] Mankoff's assistants could get relief in the form of an assistant of their own: an artificial intelligence system with a sense of humor. Mankoff collaborated with researchers at Microsoft on an artificial intelligence project that aims to teach a computer what's funny."
The software program will not decide the winner, but will narrow down the submissions to a short list from which the editor and assistant can select a winner. Early results suggest that the software is getting good:
"For example, when evaluating a cartoon depicting a car salesman hawking a hybrid animal-vehicle with hairy legs instead of wheels, the AI picked, 'Just listen to that baby purr' as one of the top captions; 'It runs on a 100 percent fuel efficient Paleo diet' was rated one of the worst. … The machine and the New Yorker editors don't always align on shortlists. On average, though, all of the editors' favorites appeared in the AI's top 55.8 percent of choices, according to the study. That means the New Yorker could use the system to eliminate at least 2,200 submissions a week without missing the gems."
Beyond understanding humor, however, Microsoft's goal is to create humor – an important component of understanding how the brain works and, therefore, further developing a more effective system of artificial intelligence:
"The researchers say they hope to one day train computers to come up their own jokes based on situations, which would make digital assistants such as Cortana and Siri more pleasant to interact with. … A side benefit: With all the consternation over the evils of AI, Horvitz says it's nice to think of these systems doing something more pleasant than destroying the universe."
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And the New Yorker Cartoon Contest Winner is... A Computer
By Tim Smedley
July 28, 2015
The Guardian Sustainable Business