February 2, 2011
The robot takeover steadily approaches: They’re now figuring out humor. Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student Heather Knight, who calls herself a “social roboticist,” has created Data, an adorable robot who not only tells jokes but learns from the audience response and then adjusts its comedy routine. Data (yes, named for the Star Trek character; it tweets under the name @robotinthewild) made its debut last year at the TEDWomen conference and did a better job than some human stand-up comedians. And it’s not just about the jokes, Knight says. From Data’s performance, “you can learn something…about the community that you’re in.”
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