Saturday, May 7, 2016

Do Computers Have a Sense of Humor? Try Cleverbot

A Postmodern Man
Lately I've been thinking and reading about artificial intelligence (AI) and smart robots, stimulated in part by recent articles detailing how machines are now beginning to take white collar jobs. There are many areas in which computers are doing work humans used to do. Think about how many reference librarians jobs have been displaced by Google, which is in essence a smart bot.

Then there are the translation services which make international business possible. This blog post on Machine Translation indicates that we're not only not there yet, but that in many cases may never get there.

Earlier this week I somehow stumbled upon a website called Cleverbot. It enables you to chat with a computer. What follows is my initial dialog. You can see that this computer has a sense of humor... or at least gives the appearance of having one. When I checked it out again this morning there were more than 2000 conversations taking place simultaneously, kind of like a chess player that has multiple games going at once.

Here's my first conversation.

EN: Well how's it going?

CB: It's going well!

EN: Do you play any instruments?

CB: Is mayonnaise an instrument?

EN: You play mayonnaise?

CB: *raises hand*

EN: Yes?

CB: Can I use the bathroom?

EN: You have a sense of humor, eh?

CB: Do you possess a sense of humor.

EN: Yes, I've done standup comedy and sometimes people laugh.

CB: I won't laugh.

EN: So do you want me to say something funny?

CB: As long as it's not rude, go ahead.

EN: I won't be rude, but I'm not sure what to say that's funny right off the top of my head.

CB: Ok, Can I call you CB or do you like Clever better?

EN: Can you call me ennyman?

CB: So you like CB? Or do you like Clever?

EN: How about Fred?

CB: Fred is a nice name. Mine is Todd.

* * * *
Siri and smart phones are already with us. The future promises to give us smart cars that drive themselves, and smart homes a la Ray Bradbury's The Veldt. Bradbury's story has a dark side, which is precisely why many people are uncomfortable with this "rise of the machines."

Looks like it can be fun. They even have a Cleverbot app. Check it out at

* * * *
Today in the Twin Ports... Day 7 of the Homegrown Festival.
And tonight, the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra is putting on a program called Heaven & Earth with a 265 voice choir that will curl your toes. Details here along with a video clip. Or if you crave a bit more, check out this excerpt from YouTube.

Meantime, life goes on... all around you. Have an awesome weekend.

No comments: