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【1843】有一天,机器人小明……

【1843】有一天,机器人小明……

说到人工智能,人们往往在惊叹于机器的强大时也为自身所面临的前景担忧——失业。在本文中,人工智能甚至可以通过讲笑话的方式为人类生产无穷的快乐。这很有趣,但也令人担忧——一项如此人格化的技能居然也可以为机器所用。不过,在翻这篇文章的时候,我们也在想,如果有朝一日机器真的学会了这些技能——甚至是翻译技能,那就让它去发挥好了,因为和机器比拼学习的速度是愚蠢的。我们要做的,就是动脑筋,以及修正它们的错误。对于这一点,你怎么看?


有一天,机器人小明……


【1843】有一天,机器人小明……


作者:CHRIS STOKEL-WALKER

译者:陈可桐

校对:唐   萧

编辑:唐   萧


A robot walks into a bar…

有一天,机器人小明……


本文选自 1843 | 取经号原创翻译

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At the International Trade Centre in Washington, DC, a crowd of 640 people is chuckling at a stand-up comedy set.

在华盛顿的国际贸易中心,一场单口喜剧正在上演,640位观众吃吃发笑

Chuckle / ˈtʃʌkl / v. laugh quietly or to oneself 轻声地笑; 暗自笑


A doctor says to his patient: “I have bad news and worse news. The bad news is you only have 24 hours to live.”

一个医生对病人说:“我有一个坏消息和一个更坏的消息。坏消息是你只能活24个小时了。


The man replies: “That’s terrible! How could the news possibly be worse?”

病人回答:太可怕了!这还能有更坏的消息?


The doctor replies: “I’ve been trying to contact you since yesterday.”

医生回答:我昨天就开始联系你了。


A ripple of laughter spreads through the audience. But this is no ordinary performance. The teller of the joke is a leprechaun-sized robot called Data, who has been programmed by Heather Knight, an assistant professor of robotics at Oregon State University.

观众席中响起一阵轻笑。但这不是一场普通的表演,因为讲笑话的是一个精灵大小的机器人,它叫Data,由俄勒冈州立大学的机器人学助理教授海瑟·奈特研发。

Leprechaun / ˈleprəkɔːn/ n. fairy in the shape of a little old man 精灵(貌似矮小老人).


Data knows approximately 200 jokes. Though it didn’t compose them itself, it decides which joke to tell next based on the volume of laughter the previous gag received and the responses of a subsection of the audience who indicate their appreciation by holding up either a red placard or a green one. Using an algorithm similar to the ones that offer recommendations on Netflix or YouTube, Data can predict which jokes the crowd is likely to enjoy. Data has been working the circuit since its debut at a TED conference in 2010, taking the stage at South by Southwest, an annual festival of culture in Texas, and at the Robot Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh.

Data能讲大约200个笑话。虽然这些笑话不是它自己想出来的,但它能根据前一个笑话赢得的笑声多少,以及一部分观众以举红牌或绿牌的形式来决定接下来该讲哪个笑话。通过使用与Netflix、Youtube所用类似的推荐算法,Data可以预测出观众最喜欢的笑话。自2010年的TED首秀之后,Data一直在巡回演出,去到了德克萨斯的一个年度文化节,还入选了匹茨堡的机器人名人堂。


Though all comedians instinctively engage in A/B testing, Data’s algorithms allow it to systematically hone the sequencing of the jokes. Knight’s next plan is to improve how the robot interacts with audiences. Though much of any stand-up’s set is written in advance, human comedians often banter with the audience and riff on their location to prove they are not just repeating a standard performance. Some spectators think that Data just recites a pre-programmed set, so Knight wants to introduce elements such as ruefully acknowledging a flopped joke in order to make the robot more convincing.

所有的喜剧演员都会本能地对比观众的反应,以判断接下来该讲哪个笑话,而Data则通过算法来系统性地优化笑话的顺序。奈特的下一步计划是让机器人和观众更好地互动。虽然单口喜剧的很多内容都是提前写好,但是人类喜剧演员常通过观众开玩笑、进行即兴表演来证明自己并非只会简单重复同样的表演。一些观众认为,Data只是在运行一段预先编写好的程序,因此奈特希望引入一些元素来让机器人看起来更真实可信:比如让机器人悲伤地承认讲砸了一个笑话。

Banter / ˈbæntə(r)/ n. playful, good-humoured teasing 打趣; 戏谑; 玩笑


Knight is one of a number of researchers exploring the intersection between comedy and artificial intelligence (AI). In doing so, they are throwing light onto the nature of humour and the limits of AI. Making each other laugh is a natural human instinct. In 2008, academics at the University of Wolverhampton traced the oldest-known joke back to Sumeria in 1900BC (it was about farting, of course). But binary code hardly offers a laugh a minute and making humour machine-readable is a daunting task.

奈特是喜剧和人工智能交叉领域的研究者之一。通过研究,他们正逐渐揭示幽默的本质和人工智能的极限。让彼此发笑是人类的一种本能。2008年,胡弗汉顿大学的学者追溯到公元前1900年的苏美尔,发现了人类最古老的笑话(当然,它是关于放屁的)。但二进制的代码让人每分钟发笑一次都困难,而且将幽默转化为机器可以理解的形式,本身就是一项非常艰巨的任务。

Daunting /ˈdɔːntɪŋ/ adj. frightening in a way that makes you feel less confident


Christopher Molineux is a comedian who has worked with TV comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres. But he is also studying for a PhD that hopes to codify the basic principles of what makes people laugh in order to train AIs. Comedy, in a certain light, often operates in a mechanical fashion. Most people don’t compose jokes; they repeat them in appropriate circumstances. And jokes themselves often follow particular formulas, such as “a man walks into a bar”. Molineux calls these phenomena “repeatables” and they are particularly receptive to computation.

喜剧演员克里斯托弗·莫利纽克斯,是电视喜剧演员杰瑞·宋飞,艾伦·德詹尼丝的同事。但他同时也在攻读博士学位。他希望将引人发笑的一些基本原则写成代码,用于训练人工智能。在某种程度上来说,喜剧遵循一套既定的模式。大部分人并不生产笑话,他们只是在合适的情况下重复这些笑话。而笑话本身则遵循一些特定的套路,比如“一个男人走进了酒吧“。莫利纽克斯将这些现象称为”可重复的模板“,而这些模板特别适合编写成代码。


Another fundamental element of comedy is incongruity. Whether a pratfall or a pun, humour often arises from words or actions that are unexpected or out of place. Because computers aren’t trapped in human patterns of thought, their outputs are often incongruous. The tricky part is making sure the slippages are slight enough to be funny. When a man tells a doctor that he feels like a pair of curtains and is told to pull himself together, you have a joke. When a pair of curtains walks into a doctor’s surgery, you have perplexing surrealism. One of the earliest examples of computer-powered joke generation was the Joke Analysis and Production Engine (JAPE), which scanned the English language for homonyms and attempted to squeeze a joke out of the consequent pun (example: what kind of murderer has moral fibre? A cereal killer).

喜剧的另一项基本元素就是「不协调」。不论是滑稽相还是俏皮话,那些意料之外、不合时宜的言行总能产生幽默感。由于电脑不为人类的思维模式所束缚,它们的产出往往是「不协调」的。但难就难在在把这些「不协调」控制得恰到好处,才能引人发笑。当听到一个人告诉医生,自己感觉有点窗帘,然后医生告诉他,把自己拉上,你会觉得很搞笑。当听到几片窗帘走进医生的手术室,你只会对这种超现实主义的笑话感到费解。最早的由电脑生产笑话的案例之一是「笑话分析生产引擎」(JAPE),当时,它浏览了英语中同音异义的情况,然后试图从双关语里造出笑话。(比如:怎样的谋杀者会有道德品格?谷物谋杀者。

fibre(粗纤维;品格)(cereal谷物,与serial同音。因此cereal killer读音与连环杀人犯相同。)


But internet culture has proved to be fertile territory for AI comics. Memes are in-jokes that are shared online. They often take the form of images overlaid with text. Their humour relies on the disjuncture between words and picture, so there the structure provides a ready-made opportunity for introducing incongruity.

但网络文化成为了人工智能戏喜剧表演的沃土。网络梗图(Meme)是在网上传播的只有特定的人懂的笑话,通常以图片搭配文字的形式呈现。其笑点来自于图文无关,而这样的结构恰好是创造「不协调」的现成机会。


In May this year researchers at Tokyo Denki University and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology unveiled an AI they had trained to caption images with jokes. The AI-generated memes were considered funny by a human observer 23% of the time (example: an image of three cats in a line was captioned, “You, don’t call me a dog.”) A similar American-led AI project at Stanford University managed to create memes that were considered by testers to be as witty as human-generated ones.

今年5月,东京电机大学和日本产业技术综合研究所的研究者展示了他们训练的一个人工智能产品,用于给图片配上搞笑的文字。在23%的情况下,人们认为人工智能生成的梗图是好笑的(比如:图片是三只猫排成一列;配字:你再叫我一声狗试试?)斯坦福的另一个类似的人工智能项目由美国人牵头,测试者称它所生产的梗图和人类生产的一样好玩。


Humour already plays a crucial role in our relationship with technology. Firms such as Apple and Amazon expend resources on coding jokes into Siri and Alexa. This is partly so we spend more time with them, prising out the jokes that lurk within, but also because they humanise what might otherwise be a creepy, affectless voice. “Humour is being used as an adjunct to create more socially cohesive AI,” says Molineux.

幽默在人与技术的关系中一直扮演着重要的角色。像苹果、亚马逊这样的公司花费了大力气在Siri和Alexa里植入笑话。我们在它们的身上花费大量的时间,部分原因在于我们喜欢挖掘潜藏在里面的笑话,同时也是因为这些笑话使得本来怪异离奇、毫无感情的语音助手变得人性化。莫利纽克斯说:“幽默可以用于帮助开发更社会化的人工智能。“

Adjunct /ˈædʒʌŋkt / n. thing that is added or attached to sth else but is less important and not essential 附加物; 附属品; 附件.


The real breakthrough will happen when computers can joke spontaneously. This is easier said than done, since human cognition knits together our knowledge of the world, providing the background of expectation against which a joke’s incongruity strikes. Computers need to be instructed in this knowledge from scratch, so teaching them how to crack jokes requires cataloguing the world. Victor Raskin of Purdue University is systematically writing “scripts” of lexical concepts that make the implicit associations of a word explicit. A doctor may be classified as a human adult who studies medicine, receives patients and listens to them, then examines their body to try and cure disease either at a hospital, medical school, doctor’s surgery or a patient’s home. Each element of the definition will have its own script.

当电脑能自动生产笑话,才是真正的突破,但这说起来容易,做起来难。因为人类的认知将我们对于世界的知识联系起来,形成了一个认知期望的背景,而笑话的「不协调」正和这个背景相抵触。计算机需要从零开始学习这些知识,因此要教会计算机编笑话,就得将整个世界编入它的目录。普渡大学的维克多·拉斯金正系统地编纂词汇概念的「脚本」,使词汇间隐含的关系显化。在计算机的认知里,一位医生指的可能是一位学习医学、接受病人、聆听病情、检查身体并试图治愈疾病的成年人类,他可能会在医院、医学院、诊所或病人家里。这个定义的每个成分都会有自己的「脚本」。

from scratch from a point at which nothing has been done ahead of time 从头开始


“This is a huge task, and I’m not entirely sure it’s manageable,” says Wladyslaw Chlopicki of the English Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and president of the International Society for Humour Studies (“I’m not really a joke teller myself,” he tells me). But Molineux is convinced that computers could soon be better at making people laugh than humans. The power of AI lies in its ability to synthesise vast amounts of information at great speed. It can workshop an entire lifetime of jokes around a theme within a matter of minutes and store those that receive the best reception. The human mind can only recall a hundred or so jokes at most. AI can theoretically remember millions of gags and will be able to adapt them to make them topical. If you think your social media feeds are full of groan-inducing cracks, just wait until the bots walk into a bar.

来自波兰克拉科夫雅盖隆英语大学的瓦拉德斯劳夫·切洛皮基说:“这是一项大工程。我不能确定这能完成。“他虽然是国际幽默研究学会主席,但他告诉我,自己并不爱讲笑话。但莫利纽克斯相信,电脑很快就能比人类更擅长逗乐。人工智能的强大在于它可以快速整合海量的信息。它可以在几分钟内生成够人讲一辈子的笑话,然后把那些反响最好的保存下来。而人类大脑最多可存储几百个笑话。人工智能理论上可以记住上百万的笑话,而且可以把笑话调整地更有趣。要是你觉得自己的社交媒体里都是些老掉牙的陈年烂梗,就静待机器人给你讲笑话吧。

Synthesise  /ˈsɪnθɪsaɪz/ v. to make something by combining different things or substances 综合


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【1843】有一天,机器人小明……

<原文地址:https://www.1843magazine.com/technology/a-robot-walks-into-a-bar>

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