Perhaps one of the most complex pieces to the human puzzle is our sense of
humor. A sense of humor not only involves intelligence and comprehension but
also an array of emotions. It is not enough to just understand something
humorous, but it is also necessary that an emotional and physiological response
be able to occur for a person to have a sense of humor. However, though there is
much involved in getting a joke, there are even more factors
involved in telling a joke (Ziv 27). This is, unfortunately, an oversimplified
explanation of what a sense of humor entails, as many people have their own
opinion about what a sense of humor is.
It is possible that we may be able to
measure the level of humor a joke has. It would seem that the greater the
positive reaction a joke can evoke and the larger the amount of people it
effects, the funnier a joke is. Conceivably then, it can be said that though it
may not be all too difficult to create a joke, creating a really good joke
requires much more capability. Now that there is some establishment of what a
sense of humor is, the next question is, can a sense of humor be taught? To a
human, perhaps it can be, but whether a good sense of humor can be taught to a
computer is doubtful. Where our technology lies today there is little chance of
computers replicating true human emotion (Beale 45). As our world simultaneously
shrinks and expands through the growing abilities and applications of computers
in our everyday lives, it seems that the role of the computer has been reversed.
Before we knew that the computer only understood what we programmed it to
understand; however, now the majority of our society is learning more from
computers than they are able to input into it. As stated, it only seems that the
roles are being reversed, because somewhere far down at the beginning of the
line someone is programming the computer. However, a transition is occurring
among computer programmers, as they attempt to create machines that learn rather
than machines that must be programmed. It has become the hope of many engineers
that the “mechanisms of human thought could be precisely modeled and
simulated on a computer”. This is known as Artificial Intelligence Essay
(Artificial 3). Artificial Intelligence, or AI, since its conception, has grown
from a dozen researchers, to thousands of engineers and specialists; from
programs capable of playing checkers, to systems designed to diagnose disease (Dumm
With all that the computer is learning now a new question arises: How long
before a computer can learn to understand and execute the attributes of a good
sense of humor? It is believed that the theory of AI has existed long before
recorded, but was not made conceivable until the invention of the electronic
computer in 1941 (Dreyfus 6). Since then many scientists and engineers have been
working on a way to make the computer more human. Once it was noticed that the
computer could perform simple tasks such as mathematical problems and memory
recall much faster than humans the idea began that they should become more like
us (Beale 2). However after almost sixty years scientists have still not been
able to create AI in the sense that they had hoped. Even the Intelligence that
they have given computers, which at the time was considered a triumph in
reaching towards AI, is no longer considered valid(Kurzweil 14-16). This
includes such “simple” machines as intelligent chess boards and other
programs for elementary games.
In the mid 1960s, however, Marvin Minsky
created and interactive computer program that many believed to be Artificial
Intelligence. Though Minsky was even doubtful of his achievement another
scientist, Joseph Weizenbaum, quickly stepped forward with an even stronger
representation of AI. This new program was called Eliza and was able to imitate
a nondirective therapist. This form of AI was extremely believable to those who
tested it, but Weizenbaum promptly explained the simplicity of his program. He
then pointed out the directions and commands the program used to fake
comprehension (Dreyfuss 69-72). Weizenbaum proved through his contest that both
his and Minskys programs were
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