Microsoft AI judges jokes at National Comedy Center

Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence is in use at the National Comedy Center, Jamestown. It will detect whether people laugh in response to jokes.

The Laugh Battle is one exhibit at the National Comedy Center which utilising Microsoft’s AI. It is one of the over 50 interactive exhibits on display at the center.

The Laugh Battle involves players reading one of over 100 pre-scripted jokes to one another. The Face API awards a point when a player gets their opponent to laugh. The API was developed by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services team.

Museum technology

The state-of-the-art museum technology uses a deep neural network of over 100,000 labeled photos. It is able to judge people’s faces on scales of eight different emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, neutral and surprise.

The software also uses facial landmarks like the corner of the lips. It judges how they move during the Laugh Battle.

Making AI accessible

Mitra Azizirad, corporate vice president for A.I. marketing at Microsoft, said in a statement: “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.”

Cornelia Carapcea, a principal program manager on the Cognitive Services team, said: “Across cultures, people smile the same way, they get angry the same way, they show disgust the same way. If somebody is smiling or frowning, we can detect that and we give back a score for each emotion,” she explained. “It is not like we see a face and we say ‘happy,’ we see a face and say ‘oh, we think happy is maybe 60 percent.’ If the person is also doing more of a Mona Lisa smile we might have happy 60 percent and sad 40 percent.”

The National Comedy Center is the world’s first not-for-profit institution dedicated to comedy.

It tells the story of comedy from its origins through the present. There are more than 50 immersive, interactive exhibits and rare comedy artifacts.

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