Chapter 13. Humor Is the New Killer App

People are funny. It only makes sense that we would want our technology to have a sense of humor. No one likes a person that can’t take a joke. Why would we tolerate a computer that can’t take a little ribbing now and again? We want our technology to get us, to understand who we are as people. What better way to express this than to get our jokes; to think we are funny and to make us laugh? Brian and Byrd travel to LA to learn more about humor and how we might be able to apply it to the future of technology.

Siri, Where’s the Closest Comedy Club?

Brian David Johnson (Los Angeles, California)

The popularity of Siri shows that a digital assistant needs more than just intelligence to succeed; it also needs tact, charm, and surprisingly, wit. Siri gets the joke and plays along. Thus it has a clever answer for just about any curveball thrown at it. It even varies its responses, a trick that makes it seem eerily human at time.

Will Knight MIT’s Technology Review (June 2012)

Late in 2011 a perfect example of humor being used in technology dropped right into our hands… literally. Apple released its iPhone 4S with the voice-activated personal assistant, Siri, and we were floored. Increasingly as the reviews rolled in about Siri most of the reviews didn’t talk about the application’s ability to find you a great place to get sushi. Even MIT Technology Review online editor Will Knight recognized the magic of Apple’s Siri in his article about social intelligence. ...

Get Vintage Tomorrows now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.