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Is that funny? Microsoft develops AI that can assess comedy

Microsoft has added another type of artificial intelligence to its expanding array of machine intelligence systems (among other ventures as profiled in the article “How Microsoft’s CEO Nadella has steered the company to success“). This is a form of face-scanning technology that can assess patterns of laughter and potentially assess the degree to which an event or person is found ‘funny’ by an audience.

The technology was showcased at the Laugh Battle exhibit which took place at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York. Here a trial took place where the Microsoft technology was used to assess several performers and to determine which comedian was ‘best’ at delivering their jokes based on an assessment of the reactions of the audience, according to Inverse.

The reactions were processed by the platform’s deep neural network, which was developed by Azure Cognitive Services. The AI was trained using a library of 100,000 images to help the system to recognize a range of universal facial expressions. The expressions were linked to eight emotions, such as happiness and sadness as well as anger, contempt, disgust, fear, neutral and surprise

Discussing the experiment, Mitra Azizirad, who is Microsoft’s corporate VP for A.I. marketing, said: “We are making A.I. accessible to everyone, expanding it beyond the world of developers and data scientists to every person – especially in ways that are universally understood and touch the heart. Nothing does that better than laughter.”

The National Comedy Center aims to use the AI to help with its mission to develop a wider appreciation for the art of comedy and how laughter can assist with physical, emotional and mental well-being.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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