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  • Humor…Machine and Human

    Posted by David Foster on September 23rd, 2018 (All posts by )

    There have been some articles lately, in Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal for example, concerning efforts to give Artificial Intelligence systems something resembling a simulated sense of humor.

    Interesting research, perhaps, but at this juncture I’m less concerned above providing a sense of humor for AI systems than maintaining a sense of humor for human beings.  Several professional comedians have commented about the increasing difficulty of doing comedy in an environment of hysterical political correctness.  But even more important is the degree to which fear of denunciation and mobbing seems to be affecting personal life and workplace behavior.

    Effective organizations, at least in this country, have tended to involve a certain level of easy interaction–including kidding around–among people.  What happens when we lose this?

    I suspect that the productivity impact, although hard to measure directly, will be quite significant.  As will the impact on the happiness and mental health of individual humans.

     

    9 Responses to “Humor…Machine and Human”

    1. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      Just a guess, but Donald Trump beat the politics of shaming by not caring. Therefore, my first guess is that it will take a comedian who doesn’t care about denunciation. A few men have had a go at it – not always funny, but suitably outrageous. The women who are considered outrageous are pretty much only “outrageous” in one direction, offending people who long since gave up watching modern comedians. Is Samantha Bee outrageous? Really?

      A few black comedians have had a go at it, and there are female comedians who try some of that. There have been some almost, but they get chased back to the reservation. I think it will take a female who really dares, is actually funny, who arrives at the right moment, and will endure the slings and arrows. Conservatives would do well to tolerate being the butt of some of those jokes, if she can be the real thing.

      See also The Simpsons, and then South Park. Both would be considered “problematic” now.

    2. Brian Says:

      Humor is a potent weapon. Historically it has been critically important that We The People can ridicule politicians without limit or repercussions. The fact that the Left in their ascendancy is trying to outlaw that is an existential threat.
      Trump’s power was simply in saying the unsayable, both with specific policies (e.g., free trade) and in general (e.g., our “elites” are idiots), and to make it funny. There’s a reason why “that’s not funny!” is a punchline, because the average person HATES people who say that.

    3. PenGun Says:

      Is Samantha Bee outrageous?

      Not at all. She never really was and since she backed down is toast to many of us. Now Michelle Wolf could do your purpose, with little trouble. ;)

    4. Bill Brandt Says:

      Just a guess, but Donald Trump beat the politics of shaming by not caring. Therefore, my first guess is that it will take a comedian who doesn’t care about denunciation.

      Right on. I think there are comedians now like that – Ron White? Lewis Black? OTOH comedians who are strictly political – eg, Bush/Trump bashing, seem rather shrill to me. Who is the female comedian whose career when into the toilet after holding Trumps head? She is where she belongs now. I always thought she was more famous for being in the news for some outrageous act rather than simply being funny.

      Bob Hope seems so long ago, but had a career for 80 years? Comedians should take note.

      Humor is a potent weapon. Historically it has been critically important that We The People can ridicule politicians without limit or repercussions. The fact that the Left in their ascendancy is trying to outlaw that is an existential threat.
      Trump’s power was simply in saying the unsayable, both with specific policies (e.g., free trade) and in general (e.g., our “elites” are idiots), and to make it funny. There’s a reason why “that’s not funny!” is a punchline, because the average person HATES people who say that.

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Humor is also a stress relief mechanism.

    5. Mike K Says:

      There’s a reason why “that’s not funny!” is a punchline, because the average person HATES people who say that.

      The “average person” is the one who made Trump president. It was an act of desperation. We have the worst ruling class in our history, as Glenn Reynolds keeps saying, and we know it.

      The worst arrived with Obama and Hillary and Harry Reid.

      We had “Continuing Resolutions” so Democrat Congress critters did not have to vote on spending. They voted “to keep the government open.” Bill Clinton introduced that technique when he outmaneuvered Newt Gingrich while he played with Monica Lewinski. Harry Reid made it into a weapon. Paul Ryan made promises that were never kept.

      Until Trump.

      The Obamacare rollout was the last straw in evidence of incompetence. Hillary’s private server, to avoid FOIA requests for her deals to enrich her and Bill y selling favors, instead left the country’s secrets open for anyone with a few hacking skills.

      Our military is at the level of competence of the Jimmy Carter hostage rescue era. The “Littoral Combat Ship” is a mess and everybody knows it.

      After 16 years and billions of dollars, the Navy may have finally acknowledged that its Littoral Combat Ship program looks like a miserable failure.

      The service “may not” deploy any of the dozen small surface combatants this year despite officials’ previous plans to deploy several to join the 7th and 5th Fleets in Singapore and Bahrain respectively, the U.S. Naval Institute first reported on April 11.

      Given the embarrassing cost overruns and frequent mechanical failures that have plagued the program, the exquisitely-detailed report suggests that the Navy has run out of patience for the disappointment mill that is the Littoral Combat Ship, once the backbone of the future fleet that could have 355 ships.

      The Zumwalt “Stealth Destroyer ” had to be towed into port again.

      Built at a cost of more than $4 billion, the high-tech USS Zumwalt only made it to the Panama Canal while on its first journey to its home port of San Diego. A malfunction left the warship in need of tugboats so that it could reach the closest port, where it remains under maintenance.
      Read more
      The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) © PO2 Timothy Schumaker / US NavyUS Navy to cancel newest warship ammunition costing $800,000 per round – report
      Passing southbound through the Panama Canal on Monday evening, the USS Zumwalt crew discovered water seeping into two of the four bearings connecting the port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors, or AIMs, to the drive shafts, according to US Naval Institute News citing a defense official.

      The AIMs are part of what makes the Zumwalt the most high-tech, and most expensive, destroyer in the US Navy’s history. They generate up to 78 megawatts, allowing the 610-foot, 15,000-ton ship’s propulsion to rely entirely on electrical power.

      This stuff would be funny except it demonstrates how the politically correct Navy can’t do anything right.

      Men die because female deck officers running the ship are not speaking to each other.

      During the early weeks after the USS Fitzgerald was speared by a lumbering Philippine container ship, it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles.
      Not until a year later, when the final reports are made public and the guilty parties have been court-martialed, does the truth come out. The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!!

      No wonder we got Trump !

    6. Bill Brandt Says:

      I might add that in different cultures there is different humor. If you doubt me read some magazines from foreigh countries that have cartoons. The British are known for a very dry sense of humor. One example I remember what an obit for Liberace, where the article stated that “he never married”. (this was awile ago, obviously). Don’t know how you can program a machine to the subtlety of humor.

    7. David Foster Says:

      “I might add that in different cultures there is different humor”…oh, this is very true, and especially when the languages are different. This is one thing that makes meetings in international business often initially a little stiff.

    8. Jonathan Says:

      Even in the same culture…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9jERprj5x0

    9. Mike K Says:

      More on the triumph of our elites in running the country.

      This time the Army.

      People Magazine reporter, Susan Keating seemed to confirm the rumors in her September, 2015 in article titled, ‘Was It Fixed? Army General Told Subordinates: ‘A Woman Will Graduate Ranger School,’ Sources Say.’

      Keating’s story was quickly lambasted by former Ranger Training Brigade Commander, Colonel David Fivecoat and former Fort Benning Maneuver Center commander, General Scott Miller, who both adamantly claimed that there was no special treatment given to Griest and Haver.

      Meanwhile, US Defense Watch was given documents that showed Haver had been one of 50 women at Fort Carson, who spent 90 straight days preparing for Ranger School, in a sort of mad cap pre-pre Ranger School. In fact, Haver flunked land navigation repeatedly at Carson and should never have been sent to Benning in the first place. Even in the days of GPS, a Ranger who can’t use a map and compass is as worthless as a golfer who can’t putt.

      And the story goes on.

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