Microsoft has developed a sense of humor AI

    Can a computer understand sarcasm?

    Since 2005, an amateur caricature without words has been published on the back cover of each issue of New Yorker . Over the past decade, the competition has become terribly popular among readers. About 5,000 papers are sent weekly to the editor. The chief editor of the cartoon department, Bob Mankoff , says that such a stream of humor burns out the brain, and a person becomes immune to humor.

    The assistants of Mankoff are engaged in the selection of cartoons, and not one of them stayed on this job for more than a couple of years: “Their minds usually collapse in two years, and then I take a new assistant,” the 71-year-old chief editor laments.

    Fortunately, Bob's assistants will soon breathe a sigh of relief: they come to the aid of Artificial Intelligence with a sense of humor - developed by Microsoft.

    Sarcasm, puns, and other elements of humor are considered one of the most difficult tasks for AI computer systems. But Microsoft Research took on the solution to this problem. The management actively supported the project, which is important for the development of the Skype Translator program, which translates the interlocutors' speech in real time from one language to another.

    Microsoft Research first formalized the rules that made the caricature funny. Then in the archive they found pairs of almost identical cartoons, of which one was funnier than the other. Couples analyzed and identified significant differences that influenced the "level of humor." For each picture, tags from two categories were manually registered: context and anomalies (the crowdsourcing service Mechanical Turk helped here).


    An example of a New Yorker caricature with tags that the program supplied

    Then they built a classifier that was able to automatically detect a more ridiculous caricature in a pair. The classifier gave correct answers in 69% of cases in pairs of pictures on one topic and in 64% of cases in arbitrary pairs. In the end, the classifier was launched on a full base to find the funniest cartoons among all - and significantly reduce the load on the judges from the editorial office.

    Although AI is not perfect, Mankoff was impressed with his work. Tests have shown that all the choices of the best cartoons made by editors fall in 55.8% of the funniest cartoons according to AI. This means that you can immediately automatically sift out 44.2% of the cartoons, that is, about 2200 pieces per week - a significant relief for editors.

    Results of their work Researchers at Microsoft Research will present on August 13 at the KDD Data Processing Conference in Sydney.

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