Just a few days ago, I wrote what I thought would be a convincing entry about the inability of AI to possess or use a sense of humor. Although some comedians and humorists seemed to doubt the present capacity of this technology to achieve that pinnacle of human sentience, a greater preponderance of social thinkers now seem resigned to the opposite: That AI will develop a sense of humor that goes beyond writing jokes or being funny. With that blog now trashed, I’m thinking differently.
First, let’s review what it means to have a sense of humor: This is a completely, totally, 100% human capability. It’s another core component of human nature that neurobiologists call “a whole-brain activity.” Engaging in the sparkle of shared wit involves multitudes of highly integrated connections among many important brain structures. That’s why humor can be helpful in understanding one’s self and maintaining relationships. (When you and I eventually discover how we can laugh together, we have a good chance of getting to know each other. Of bonding.)
Right now, AI’s humor is only a bit better than bland. Absurdities and incongruities—the source of humor—aren’t yet one of its strongest suits. But AI algorithms are still developing their ability to sort and combine the essential elements of humor—which also rests on the innate intricacies of human interaction—a kind of mind-reading.
When AI cracks the human humor barrier, AI masters will be able to probe our inner selves even more assuredly. To control what tickles and delights our sense of humor. I had hoped that this near-idolatrous manifestation of technology could eventually gag on itself—stuck without a sense of humor. It appears that I may soon be totally wrong.
I am being totally serious….
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