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WEST LAFAYETTE, IND — While current AI systems can tell jokes, they often struggle to grasp the relevance of humor in context, leading to misinterpretations or taking jokes literally, particularly in conversations involving sarcasm.

Humor is complex, and its multifaceted nature poses challenges for humans and AI alike, according to Julia Rayz, a professor and associate Department Head of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

“When people communicate, humor plays a very important part,” she said. “So with advancements in conversational AI, we are trying to make interaction as natural as possible, and humor, of course, is going to be a part of that.”

Rayz believes that while AI may not currently excel at understanding humor, it holds immense potential. By gradually enhancing AI’s grasp of humor, conversations with AI can become significantly more enjoyable for people. This underscores the ongoing efforts to make AI more akin to human communication. Rayz emphasizes that integrating humor into AI systems is pivotal in this process.

“Computers can already tell jokes, especially with generative AI playing such a role,” she added. “They can tell jokes, read jokes from books, and sometimes come up with their own jokes. The question is how relevant it is for a human. It has to fit in the conversation; it has to fit in the topic. But also, it would be nice if computers could understand what humor is when humans are talking about and making jokes.”

Developers are interested in adding humor to AI to make chatting with artificial intelligence feel more like talking to a real person, which makes it more fun and comfortable for users. Rayz suggests that even though AI might not fully understand jokes yet, teaching it humor can still improve our every day chats with AI.