Can Computers Be Taught to Be Funny?
If computers are to interact with humans as other humans do, they will have to learn to be funny, or at least think they are funny. Computer scientists are teaching machines to tell jokes.
What's the Latest Development?
While mastering a human language is an enormous task for a machine, the ability of computers to interact with with people is improving, from speech-based call centers to Apple's Siri. Enter humor, the glue that binds many bits of human conversation. Computer scientists increasingly see it essential for computers to have a sense of humor. To achieve this, "computational humor researchers have by and large taken a more concrete approach: focusing on simple linguistic relationships, like double meanings, rather than on trying to model the high-level mental mechanics that underlie humor."
What's the Big Idea?
Given the complexity of humor and human language, even the best standup computers are limited to rather corny puns. But larger feats lie ahead. "The goal of computational humor, and of computational linguistics as a whole, is to design machines akin to the shipboard computer on 'Star Trek'—ones that can answer open-ended questions and carry on casual conversations with human beings, even William Shatner. ... If computer humorists can answer any of these questions, we won’t just get a deeper understanding of how language works but also, ultimately, what it means to be human."
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How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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