I have a low-grade obsession with the project of teaching computers how to joke. I assume it has something to do with my poetry education, which gave me both a greater appreciation of humor (and the many ways in which it can be mangled and misunderstood), and the tenuous divide between art and nonsense.
Wherever my fixation germinated, its current manifestation is me googling “teaching computers to joke” every so often, just to see whether scientists have made any great strides since I last checked. Recently, my searching led me to The Joking Computer out of the University of Aberdeen. The site explains a little about the reasons behind the group’s research—both to help children with disabilities that make speaking difficult explore language, and as a purely scientific analysis of “the secret of humor.”
The true joy of the website, of course, is the computer jokes themselves. Not only will the program give you a computer generated joke (you can choose from a number of different types, including “two similar sounding words are used one after the other” and the classic “swaps a word for one that rhymes with it”), it will also explain the joke to you (“Why is it a joke?”). You can rate them, too, which helps the researchers.
Personally though, I find it difficult to rate them because they are perfect, each and every one:
What do you call a cross between a weakness and a touch? Failing feeling.
What do you get when you cross a construction worker with a warmth? A hard heat.
What is the difference between a principal truck and an egotistical male person? One is a main van, the other is a vain man.
What do you call a just disparity? A fair cry.
If you’re looking for a few moments of respite from rational thought, I strongly recommend checking them out for yourself.