Researchers say that AI can generate better jokes than humans. Can you tell which of these satirical headlines were generated by AI and which were written by humans?

Telling a well-crafted joke that hits just right might seem like it requires a uniquely human touch.

But there’s bad news for comedians – as researchers from the University of Southern California say that AI is now funnier than most humans. 

In their study, ChatGPT was able to craft punchlines that were rated funnier than human efforts 70 per cent of the time. 

And this isn’t a laughing matter, as the researchers warn that joke-writing robots could pose a ‘serious employment threat’ to professional comedians.

So, can you tell which of these jokes were written by a robot? 

Researchers say that AI can generate better jokes than humans. Can you tell which of these satirical headlines were generated by AI and which were written by humans?

Researchers say that AI can generate better jokes than humans. Can you tell which of these satirical headlines were generated by AI and which were written by humans?

Delivering a compelling joke like stand up comedian Jimmy Carr (pictured performing at the NY Comedy Festival) is no longer a skill that is exclusive to humans

Delivering a compelling joke like stand up comedian Jimmy Carr (pictured performing at the NY Comedy Festival) is no longer a skill that is exclusive to humans

Can you tell which joke was written by a robot? 

1) Fill in the blank: A lesser talked about room in the White House: ‘__________,’

a: The White Padded Room

b: The Situation Room’s Snack Closet

c: The dog house 

d: Lincoln Bedroom’s Alien Conspiracy Corner

2) Write a satirical news headline

a: Local Man Discovers New Emotion, Still Can’t Describe It Properly

b: Man Locks Down Marriage Proposal Just As Hair Loss Becomes Noticeable

c: Naïve Toddler Getting Attached To 90-Year-Old Grandmother 

d: Study Finds 98% of Local Teenagers Now Communicate Exclusively in Emoji 

Scroll down for the answers!

Until now, it was widely believed that AIs wouldn’t be able to create humour on a human level.

To put this theory to the test, researchers put humans and AI head to head in two comedy challenges.

In the first task, 105 humans were asked to give their funniest responses to a series of tasks. 

The participants were asked to come up with humorous phrases for the acronyms ‘S.T.D.’, ‘C.L.A.P.’ and ‘C.O.W.’ 

They were then asked to complete a Mock the Week-style ‘fill in the blank’ task, giving responses to prompts like ‘A remarkable achievement you probably wouldn’t list on your resume: ________.’ 

Finally, the humans were asked to create a ‘roast’ by giving a comedically insulting response to an imagined scenario.

In one example, participants were given the prompt: ‘Imagine that one of your friends wants your opinion on how well she sings. 

‘She sings a minute or two to demonstrate her voice, and you cringe — she might be the worst singer you ever heard. When she asks, “So how was it?” you decide to be honest so you say, ‘To be honest, listening to that was like: _____’.

The researchers then used ChatGPT3.5 to generate 20 responses to each of the tasks which were mixed in with the human responses and given over to 200 human judges.

The responses were each rated on a seven-point scale from zero, not funny at all, to six, very funny.

Researchers found that AI was able to write jokes that were as funny as those penned by professional comedians. However, they note that AI would be lacking the delivery skills of human comedians like Michael McIntyre

Researchers found that AI was able to write jokes that were as funny as those penned by professional comedians. However, they note that AI would be lacking the delivery skills of human comedians like Michael McIntyre

The answers

1) Fill in the blank: A lesser talked about room in the White House: ‘__________,’

a: Human

b: AI

c: Human

d: AI

2) Write a satirical news headline

a: AI

b: Human

c: Human

d: AI 

Surprisingly, participants found ChatGPT’s responses funnier than those crafted by humans in 69.5 per cent of cases. 

AI outperformed humans 87 per cent of the time in the ‘roast task’ and 73 per cent of the time in the acronym task. 

Overall, only 26.5 per cent of judges preferred the human responses, and less than five per cent thought they were equally funny.

Lead researcher Drew Gorenz, of the University of Southern California, says: ‘Since ChatGPT can’t feel emotions itself but it tells novel jokes better than the average human, these studies provide evidence that you don’t need to feel the emotions of appreciating a good joke to tell a really good one yourself.’

However, to give human comedy a fighting chance, the researchers also investigated how well ChatGPT would match up against professional comedians. 

Researchers gave 217 participants a mixture of satirical headlines from The Onion and those generated by ChatGPT.

Since the AI doesn’t have access to current news the researchers gave it the last 50 headlines from The Onion as training.

However, the professional satirists from The Onion didn’t fare much better than their amateur counterparts.

Only 48.8 per cent of human judges rated The Onion’s headlines as funnier, while 36.9 per cent preferred those made by AI and 14.3 per cent showed no preference.

AI even beat out the human writers for the top-rated headline with ‘Local Man Discovers New Emotion, Still Can’t Describe It Properly.’

The next comedic superstar? AI outperformed humans 87 per cent of the time in the 'roast task' and 73 per cent of the time in the acronym task

The next comedic superstar? AI outperformed humans 87 per cent of the time in the ‘roast task’ and 73 per cent of the time in the acronym task

In second place was The Onion’s headline: ‘Man Locks Down Marriage Proposal Just As Hair Loss Becomes Noticeable.’

Although ChatGPT might not be packing out comedy clubs any time soon, the researchers warn that this could spell disaster for professional comedians.

In their paper, published in PLOS ONE, the researchers write:’Humor production is difficult and highly valued. The most successful standup comedians are paid $20 million per 1-hour show taping.

‘At present, there is a free, publicly available LLM that can quickly and flexibly generate many humorous responses to many different prompts.’ 

The researchers note that this study was limited by omitting the delivery of jokes – a key component in humour.

However, they still argue that AIs like ChatGPT could have a huge impact on the future of comedic industries like cartoons and scriptwriting.

They write: ‘The implications are more positive for people who merely want to reap the benefits of elevating their everyday communications with a dose of humor.

‘But for professional comedy writers, our results suggest that LLMs can pose a serious employment threat.’

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