Why AI Has Yet to Have Its Humor Watershed Moment

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Why AI Has Yet to Have Its Humor Watershed Moment 

By Movieguide® Contributor 

As the Writers Guild of America (WGA) started going on strike early last month, one of the main issues was the use of AI in the writers’ room. Along with poor pay, writers didn’t want their job security to be in question through replacement by AI. While AI has had moments of genuine competition against humans in music and art production, how likely is it that it would be able to replace writers as well? 

Broadly speaking, AI has yet to have success in generating good jokes, and most comedians and AI researchers believe that AI will continue to struggle with humor for a long time.  

“Humor is highly contextual and situational, which makes it an extraordinary difficult problem to solve,” associate director of Georgia Tech’s Machine Learning Center, Mark Riedl, said. 

AI can generate marginally funny jokes using already established formulas, such as knock-knock jokes, because the whole system relies on systemized pattern recognition. However, this system does not lend itself to generating wholly new jokes that are distinct from ones that have already been told. 

The lack of a lived human experience is another barrier when it comes to AI generating jokes. AI can only approximate human experience, rather than personally live out the experience. 

“Unless the machine understands why a joke is funny, you are nowhere,” Professor of Computer and Information Technology, Julia Rayz, said. 

“AI, a conservative technology, doesn’t understand what taboos are, so it can’t break them,” notes Guy Hoffman, associate professor at Cornell University. 

While AI struggles with humor when working alone, it can be helpful in inspiring comedians to create jokes of their own. AI’s unconventional approach to word association can lead humans to unconventional thinking. 

At its best, AI could become a tool for comedians to use. At its worst, companies could settle for mediocre jokes and replace workers with an AI tool. Knowing the tendencies of production companies, the WGA knows that the companies will cut costs wherever possible and settle for uninspired work. 

Movieguide® previously reported on AI regulation: 

Altman believes that the current tech boom has the potential to be a “printing press moment” forever changing human life. However, he recognizes the risks of the current approach to innovation in the tech industry and is encouraging lawmakers to regulate the boom… 

Another concern over the use of AI comes from the potential to eliminate millions of jobs.  

“There will be an impact on jobs,” Altman said. “We try to be very clear about that, and I think it’ll require partnership between industry and government, but mostly action by government, to figure out how we want to mitigate that. But I’m very optimistic about how great the jobs of the future will be.”  

Even as Altman is promoting safety and government regulation in the field, many top tech experts believe that he and his company are still moving too fast. Earlier this year, dozens of tech leaders signed an open letter urging companies to halt progress on AI development for at least six months so government regulation could catch up with the quickly evolving field.  

“I think moving with caution and an increasing rigor for safety issues is really important,” Altman said in response to the letter. “The letter I didn’t think was the optimal way to address it.” 

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