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What is the context of this research?
My goal is to collect and test hundreds of theories for why jokes are funny. Because jokes are a fundamentally human phenomenon, we need to use people to test these theories. This technique is called crowdsourcing: using a crowd of people to solve problems a computer can't. Crowdsourcing is what built Wikipedia.
I am an expert in crowdsourcing. We will use the crowd to analyse jokes. So far, no one has leveraged massive datasets of human judgement to crack the question of why jokes are funny. I want to use the crowd to help us understand humor.
What is the significance of this project?
Studying jokes is a way to study intelligence Our ability to "get" jokes is a perfect example of our complex linguistic, social, and reasoning skills. Right now, we think of jokes as a mysterious curiosity of language. But they're not. There are recurring features in jokes such as insult (lawyer jokes, blonde jokes, etc.) leaving out information and allowing listeners to connect the dots ("Never taking a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night"). To understand jokes we just have to identity these recurring features and test them out on hundreds of jokes. Then we will know what high-level linguistic features are important to jokes and to intelligence.
What are the goals of the project?
I am raising money to pay hundreds on workers on Mechanical Turk to analyze thousands of jokes. Stay tuned!