Tag Archives: funny

on Turing

 

turing

and now … getting back to The Turing Test

lately my thoughts return, once again, to Alan Turing and the infamous Turing Test he conducted pertaining to machine intelligence, or better stated, pertaining to our human perceptions, beliefs and gullibility surrounding the technologies we create

the original goal of The Turing Test was to test ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’

however, based on this goal in relation to the actual methodologies and approach used by Turing, we can see a certain strange perversion didn’t necessarily shed any direct light on or prove anything at all remotely about a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior but instead used a trick in the form of a hidden human agent cleverly disguised as the computing machine to simulate varying degrees of intelligence along the machine to human intelligence spectrum 

at this time in history we may want to re-examine how we measure for intelligence — both machine and human intelligence

our standards of human language — especially machine-mediated, near-human language of social communication through the screen — have sufficiently changed over the course of several decades

and we need to keep in mind that the standards of human language vary significantly as we examine our communications as delivered through different mediums — for instance, human language in classic literature varies tremendously from the way we text each other via SMS; email communications — in regards to content, purpose and language structure — differ from the way we converse through social media as well as the way we communicate face-to-face IRL { the TLA for ‘In Real Life’ }; and so on

what if we considered testing ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’ by utilizing different forms of human communication exchange?

for instance, what if we looked at machine intelligence through the lens of humor and laughter?

Funny-robot

could a computing machine perform a successful set of stand up comedy in front of a live, human audience? can a computing robotic device actually make us laugh through comedy? not just by delivering jokes and schtick as written and honed through a human comedy author, mind you, but by cleverly crafting its own comedic material through whatever embedded intelligence-derived writing algorithms its programmed with, and then by delivering that material live, onstage?

and — from the other perspective — can our computing technologies in 2014 detect and respond to a human-delivered set of stand-up comedy through genuine laughter?

my questions here — just to clarify — challenge our current notions of machine intelligence by proposing we conduct the testing using actual machines, not just simulations of machine intelligence

let’s not fake it to make it here when it comes to our measure of intelligence — let’s avoid any sense of a mere simulation of intelligence by leveraging the state of our technologies as they exist today, ‘as is’

unfortunately i’m not the person to actually design, develop and build the actual technological objects needed to conduct these experiments — i’m just not technically proficient enough to produce an intelligent-enough robotic stand-up / humor / laughing machine to properly conduct the testing as i imagine it would need to be

but my hypothesis goes something like this:

the technologies we create will never be smart enough to deliver a successful set of stand-up comedy to a live, human audience — the content of the material would miss the mark and the delivery would be too awkward and off to get people to feel any amount of the sense of mirth needed to provoke genuine, human laughter

not only would a robotic stand-up act not produce laughter — in an even worse way such an act would most likely, instead, create an atmosphere of strangeness, this uncanny valley effect as defined and described by Masahiro Mori — the performance would feel downright creepy to people and would actually start to effect our human perceptions and our overall experience of the space and place of The Comedy Club as a familiar and funny scenario

i also do not believe our current technologies could be successfully programmed to behave in a smart enough manner onstage to improvise in the way a stand-up does on a nightly, performance-by-performance basis — a robot, for instance, might not be able to read the audience to gauge how they’re receiving the material, to see if they’re being funny enough to proceed with further material ‘as previously planned’ or to, perhaps, switch up to a different branch of jokes and storytelling based upon both an audience’s laughter and the general human feel of the room 

and then — when going in the other direction — when asking whether or not a robot or other computing machine could identify something as funny and then laugh in a natural, human way at the comedy or humor that typical inspires our human laughter — this, to me, is a no brainer

there’s just no way

in fact, we would be tripping into the same uncanny valley every step of the way — it might, perhaps, even be a far deeper fall into an unfathomable abyss of uncanniness

we can look to the dinner scene from Kubrick and Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence as the speculative example of what might actually happen when a robotic being encounters a humorous situation

sam_robards_haley_joel_osment_frances_o_connor_a.i._artificial_intelligence_001

as a robotic boy, David sits at the dinner table with his new adoptive parents — as his parents Monica and Henry Swinton eat and drink their meal, David imitates the act of eating and drinking since he himself does not actually need food-based sustenance to live — after some silent tension at the dinner table, David breaks out into a crazy fit of laughter that quite literally scares the shit out of the Swintons — and then, following the initial scary outburst of laughter, the entire family exchanges more laughter around the dinner table

the entire scene makes no sense at all from a purely human perspective, but we see how a robot might misinterpret the tension in the room as potential humor to laugh about — here, for some strange reason, the laughter of the robotic boy, succeeds in making his human parents laugh — his laughter somehow becomes contagious for them, infectious, and they join in — but even then, the shared social sense of human laughter still contains a sour uncanniness, there is still some tense pressure residing in the room

 

so, on that note:

is there anyone that might be up to the challenge? who here on the interwebz can build a robot or other technology that could potentially make a human audience genuinely laugh?

and, could you also build out its amazing technologically-based counterpart as well? a robot that can detect and actually laugh in a human, natural way to human-delivered stand-up comedy?

do you submit to my challenge?

do you even dare?

the laughterLife

little child baby

i so wanted to already unrealistically be done with my re-written thesis by now, which i realize is simply ridiculous

one of my main issues — both my biggest challenge and my greatest attitudinal asset as an artist and designer, actually — is my utter lack of any sense of realism

i am Surrealistic through and through

and with my previous thesis work, too, i’ve contextualized my work and personality as that of a cyberSurrealist

but this was the distracting pull that veered me away from what i now feel should have been my main thesis focus — laughter

confounded — as nicely expressed by my überStrong and somewhat out of control subconscious interior — was just that on SO many levels

confounded

confoundedCoverNew_WV.indd

i love the work i did out at DMI to death — really i do — but i completely understand some problematic issues of my own struggle between focus and blur — i even had very specific slides in my performative review presentations that visually depicted my tendencies to ebb and flow from one mode into the other

of course, there’s nothing wrong with pushing and pulling between more focused work and blurry brainstormy fun — but then, when trying to research, design, test, reflect and articulate on a meaningful topic, that’s when its important, of course, to try and pull something reasonably understandable together as a final product with important conclusions for an audience’s considerations

i got excited about founding a movement of one { which i now find hilarious } — this soft revolution of sorts that gave me the good excuse to ‘act out’ a little bit and experiment with psychoSocial boundaries that are now beyond blurred due to an increasingly fleeting technohumanic evolutionary ecosystem — there’s no guardrail to this shit at all — and the lack of rules or standards opens up plenty of opportunities for us all to exploit as cartoonish iCapitalists set loose on the world

wdwwwtd

 

there are little to no consequences for acting more and more emotionless and robotic — for approaching the previous dotted-line boundaries that were once oh so clear to us all but that are now very easy to step across in the most silly, passive-aggressive ways imaginable

and, of course, we’re all well aware that these things happen every day — corporations seem to lead the way by transgressing what we all know is the territory of wrong and then either asking forgiveness later or somehow making the bent or broken rules officially and permanently forever bent in the way of corporate favor

but now, back to laughter

The-Power-of-Laughter

i’ve got to get back to laughter

both as a topic to finish my research, prototyping, reflection and reporting on and as a lighter way to live my life over these last 30 to 50 years or so

i’ve been feeling heavy lately

i’m physically heavy — or as they say, obese

i’ve always gone up and down in weight, its been an ongoing life challenge for me — and every once in a while i put my best effort into getting healthy by starting up jogging, watching what i eat, going to the gym, staying away from sweets, all that, ya know? 

but that kind of life is just SO boring — the vigor and fun gets just sucked right out of every minute when you’re watching every little morsel you eat — and SO many options at restaurants and even at the supermarket are simply off the table — life becomes a little less flavorful

and, on top of all that drop in the joy of eating, exercise is just dead boring to me — hamsterwheel cardio in front of a row of vapid television programming while listening to the current piped in muzak poppedness feels like such a waste of fucking time — i mean, i know it isn’t — its a little road to recovery and all, but jeez, wtf? ya know?

so, besides being physically heavy, i’ve also been extremely spiritually heavy as of late

i feel that at the tender age of 44 i’ve accomplished enough in life, but i don’t feel like i’ve done anything all that ‘great,’ if you know what i mean — and now that times a tickin’

i mean, besides being a relatively decent dad at times and a semi-decent person { mostly by comparison, which i guess isn’t saying all that much at the end of the day … hmmMMmmm } i’m not feeling like i’ve made a dent in some of the big challenges we face in the world

but then again, who am i? right?

what can one person possibly do to make at least a minor portion of some of this shit we deal with ‘right’ for our future generations?

 

at times i’ve described my thesis — my previous thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy — as being about ‘laughter, humor and the area inbetween’

my contextual history from confoundedsomewhere between humor and laughter — at least captures different definitions for the word ‘funny’ as a way to establish the uncanny valley of humor i typically situate myself within — as a sometimes amateur comedian, i am actually quite bored with comedy and often plant myself as a performer, or even as a member of the audience, as a bit of a virus — at this point, comedy is a commodity and so much of it just isn’t funny at all in the ‘ha ha’ sense of being genuinely funny — humor is now vastly flattened, predictable and unsurprising and much of the time a stand-up comedian or even the actors in a situation comedy vastly depend upon the magic of the setup of a comedy club or televised comedic show to land the laughs

i get the sense that we’re practicing the ghost-rhythm of the previously established comedic delivery and ultimately leveraging the tickle-theory basis of something like Peter McGraw’s Benign Violation as a delivery strategy to make people laugh — but i’m still not convinced any of it is truly ‘funny’ per se

what i’m finding lacking in the research right now is a lack of openness to many perspectives

in order to understand laughter as a human phenomena i think we also need to study and research laughter, humor, comedy, funniness and the lack of funniness to better analyze the entire milieu of these built-in forces within us all

what makes something funny? what makes something unfunny? why do we laugh? what’s laughter all about? why do we need a joking comment or a television canned laugh track or the wonderful trappings of a stand-up comedy club as the contextual ‘space’ that gives us permission to laugh?

these were areas i lightly focused on in my 4th stream in confounded — the last stream, too — but one that still feels somewhat incomplete, hurried and waiting for continued work and revelation

i touched upon a lot of important thought and research around laughter but didn’t give myself the space and time to properly focus this vastly important area of my research

this is the page i’ll now turn to — i want to re-open this stream of research, work, prototyping and reflection to finish the work that i started and finish it up in a far more rewarding manner

i don’t know if this will end up feeling like something ‘great’ to offer up to the world, or at least not ‘great’ enough, but i think this work deserves to be finished in a decent manner

i will treat the topics of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness { and even lack of funniness } with dignity and respect

and then i will eat them

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