Will self-aware AI ever be a laughing matter?

The latest AI experiment by Microsoft, Tay, has been a resounding failure, essentially spawning a neo-Nazi sex pest. Photograph: Twitter There is a moment in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film, Interstellar, when Tars, the sarcastic robot, jokes to shuttle pilot Cooper that his companions will make perfect human slaves on his sinister robot colony. In response, Cooper turns down Tars’s humour setting from 100% to 75%, alluding to a future where robots could have programmable funniness. But could a robot – or an artificial intelligence (AI) – ever develop its own sense of humour and take a step towards being regarded as a sentient being? While sentient AI has been intriguing masses ever since the retrofitted future of Blade Runner burst on to the cinema screen, computer-generated humour hasn’t been examined…


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